Is Exercise Good For Recovering Body Image?

There’s an old story about people who expect to feel different after just one workout. After spending a few minutes on the treadmill, they run to the mirror hoping to see a drastic change in the way their body looks. Of course, just a few minutes on the treadmill or participating in any exercise is not enough to change one’s outsides. Research published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that those few minutes might actually achieve a change, on the inside.

The study used women who had a history of body image issues and were regular exercisers. Some of the women in the study were assigned a moderate workout for thirty minutes or simply sitting and reading quietly. Before their respective activities, the researchers measured the women’s feelings about their body image. Some of the questions were tough questions for people with body image to confront. Researchers asked about the women’s opinions on their body fat, which can be very triggering. To counteract the focus on body image, the researchers also asked women about their opinions on their physical strength, to focus on ability as well as appearance.

While the results are impressive in regards to how quickly body image can be boosted by exercise, the researchers missed an important point about body image. “Fat” and “thin” are not feelings. In body image recovery, it is essential for men and women to understand this fact. One cannot feel fat; more importantly, one cannot define the rest of their feelings on whether or not they “feel” “fat”. Nonetheless, the researchers found that women who exercised moderately for 30 minutes had improvements in their body image after their workout. Reading, on the other hand, did not have such an impact. Problematically, the researchers quantified the results on how the women felt, reporting that they felt thinner in addition to stronger.

Exercise is an important part of recovery from any mental health condition. Physical health is critical for recovering from mental health issues, of which body image issues are a part of. Body image issues are often co-occurring with mental health disorders of any kind. Treating body image takes a holistic approach to treatment. Cottonwood Tucson offers an integrative approach to treating co-occurring disorders that is critically acclaimed and internationally recognized. Our residential treatment programs effectively treat mind, body, and spirit, for total recovery. For information, call us today at (888) 727-0441.

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