No matter how into exercise you are, everybody has times when it’s a serious struggle to drag your b*tt to the gym. Now, new research has found a perk to keep you motivated—even a short workout can leave you feeling stronger and better about your body.
The study, which was published in the journal Psychology of Sports and Exercise, took 60 college women who exercised regularly and had body image concerns, and randomly separated them into two groups. One group was asked to do 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise, while the other sat and read.
Afterward, the researchers had the women answer questions about body image and how they felt about their own bodies. >’s what they found: Women who were in the exercise group had significant improvements in their body image compared to the women who just read. Specifically, they felt stronger and better about their bodies than the women who didn’t exercise—and the mental perk lasted for at least 20 minutes after they were done working out. And, while exercise is known to be a mood-booster, the researchers determined that the feel-good body vibes weren’t due to a change in mood. Instead, the women’s perceptions about themselves changed.
It’s a cool concept, but the researchers say it has bigger implications—it could help explain the effects of exercise on body image and contribute to recommendations on exercise as part of a treatment for women who are struggling to feel good about their physical appearance. And, of course, the more you feel good about your body on the regular, the less likely you are to suffer from body-image issues.
So, next time you’re struggling with workout motivation, keep this in mind: Exercising could give you perks beyond physical strength—it could give your body image a boost, too.