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Women Don’t Have to Work Out for Hours to Improve Body Image

New research published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise has estimated the amount of time women need to exercise to feel an improvement in their body image. Though the sample size of the study was incredibly small at just 75 college age women, the findings are encouraging to women who struggle to create an exercise routine and find better body image. Just thirty minutes of exercise helped women feel stronger, according to the findings of the study.

Participants in the study answered a questionnaire before and after either working out or not working out, and another survey twenty minutes after that period of time. Women who had worked out on a stationary bike for thirty minutes. The questionnaire looked at the exercise habits women had, how they felt about their levels of energy and how they felt about their levels of stress. In addition, women were asked questions specific to their body image about their appearance.

Even after the twenty minute post workout period, the women who spent time exercising felt better about their body image and reported feeling stronger than they did just fifty minutes ago. Often, the hardest part about exercising is developing the muster to begin. Women face internal mental roadblocks about working out largely due to their experience of body image concerns. Though the act of exercise will help what they perceive to be “flawed” with their personal appearance, they cannot bring themselves to begin exercise because of their current personal appearance. The strength of a woman’s physical perception of herself has an affect on her energy, how she handles stress, and how productive she is in a day. Exercise is a benefit for the superficial, surface level concerns of physique, as well as a benefit mentally.

Exercise is an evidence-based practice for women in recovery. Evidence-based practices are those which have been widely proved by scientific research in their efficacy. For concerns of mental health, exercise has been proven to effectively reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, both of which can be tied to body image. Depression, closely related to the past,  can lead a woman to ruminate on how she used to look. Anxiety, closely related to the present, can lead a woman to ruminate on how she will be perceived as looking in the future. Exercise is also a great way to reduce as well as relieve stress which can build as a women stresses about her appearance. All of the positive effects of exercise on mental health are beneficial for recovering from drug and alcohol addiction of which the side effects can include depression, anxiety, and stress.

Most importantly, participating in exercise increases feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. Self-esteem, it is often said, is built through esteemable acts. Exercise is an act of esteem. Making the time to exercise, for at least thirty minutes, builds respect for the self, which thereby increases self-esteem.


Villa Tranquil is a women’s transitional living home, recently opened in Jupiter Farms, Florida. Our unique program incorporates exercise, experiential outdoor activities, healthy living, and structured care for women between ages 18-65 years old. Providing compassionate care, women learn to be their authentic selves and find serenity in their sobriety. Call us today for information on our availability and services:  214-799-3080