Just One, 30 Minute Workout Can Boost Your Body Image—Here’s Why

Step away from the full-length mirror! Use this super-simple strategy to get a positive body buzz.

Could just one workout improve your body image? Anyone who’s into keeping fit will swear it’s true, while those who’re sitting skeptically on the sofa might have their doubts. Well, we now have proof that the amazing confidence boost you get after working out is an actual thing. And the best part is, you don’t have to work out for hours. Apparently, 30 minutes is plenty to bring on that run-the-world feeling.

According to a new study, carried out by researchers from UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences and published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, women who exercised for 30 minutes felt stronger and thinner, and the feel-good buzz lasted for at least 20 minutes. On the other hand, women who spent the same amount of time sitting reading didn’t report the same boost.

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It’s interesting to note that the women who participated in the study all had preexisting body image concerns, and were already regular gym goers. The researchers measured how the women felt about their bodies in the moment before they were assigned their activity (working out at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes, or sitting and reading quietly), and afterward as well. They asked the women how they felt about their strength as well as their body fat, ensuring the study wasn’t only focused on appearances. As we know, there are more benefits to exercise than weight loss.

“We all have those days when we don’t feel great about our bodies,” said Kathleen Martin Ginis, PhD, lead author on the study, in a press release. “This study and our previous research shows that one way to feel better is to get going and exercise.”

But why does exercise improve body image—and do it so quickly? According to Dr. Martin Ginis, the feelings of empowerment and strength women experience after working out trigger “an improved internal dialogue.” This should then lead to more positive thoughts and feelings about their bodies, replacing any negative ones.

Even though we don’t all hanker for six-pack abs or want to lose weight, who could possibly say “no thanks” to a confidence boost? Throw the other proven health benefits into the mix—preventing osteoporosis, reducing chronic pain and lowering blood pressure for starters—and you really have no reason not to get off that sofa for a mere 30 minutes. The answer to how to be confident really does seem to be that simple.

If this inspires you to make time for a regular workout, check out these awesome 60-second exercises you can incorporate into your routine.

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