You may want to hit the gym as according to a recent study, just one 30-minute bout of exercise makes women feel stronger and thinner.
The UBC study also found that the positive effect lasts well beyond the activity itself, which may be good news for women concerned about their body image.
"Women, in general, have a tendency to feel negatively about their bodies," said senior author Kathleen Martin Ginis. "This is a concern because poor body image can have harmful implications for a woman's psychological and physical health including increased risk for low self-esteem, depression and for eating disorders. This study indicates exercise can have an immediate positive effect."
Martin Ginis, along with Lauren Salci, compared the body image and physical perceptions of women who completed 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise with those who sat and read. Women in the exercise group had significant improvements in their body image compared to those who didn't exercise.
This positive effect lasted at least 20 minutes post-exercise. The research team further established that this effect was not due to a change in the women's mood, rather it was linked to perceiving themselves as stronger and thinner.
"We all have those days when we don't feel great about our bodies," noted Martin Ginis. "This study and our previous research shows one way to feel better, is to get going and exercise. The effects can be immediate."
Martin Ginis sees this study as a gateway to developing maximally effective body image-enhancing exercise interventions.
"We think that the feelings of strength and empowerment women achieve post exercise, stimulate an improved internal dialogue," added Martin Ginis. "This in turn should generate positive thoughts and feelings about their bodies which may replace the all too common negative ones."
The study appears in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise.