A new study reinforces the role exercise can play in feeling better about how you look, and avoiding the harmful consequences of body dissatisfaction.

Negative body image can be a daily battle for many women. Although not unheard of in males, it is women who suffer most from what is known technically as “body dissatisfaction”, which is often associated with low self-esteem, depression and harmful health behaviors, including eating disorders.

Although far from a miracle cure, just one 30-minute bout of exercise can have significant effects on immediate thoughts of body dissatisfaction. This then translates into a better mood and more positive thoughts that can last all day. This positive impact was further reinforced in the women who completed this study, whose self-perception improved after exercise, and who felt stronger and less overweight.

It’s hoped these findings will contribute to practical guidelines for improving body image with exercise.

Professor David Cameron-Smith is a regular Fit Planet contributor. A transplanted Australian living in New Zealand, he obtained a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from Deakin University, and undertook postdoctoral training at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. His research interests include the importance of nutrition in the maintenance of optimal health in an ageing population, and the impact of nutrition in regulating the function of muscles

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