Science Says A Mere 30 Minutes Of Exercise Can Do Wonders For Your Self-Image

by Georgina Berbari
Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

You know when you wake up and it's just one of those days? Maybe a massive new pimple just popped up on your chin, or perhaps your hair refuses to cooperate with you, no matter how much you try to tame it. Everyone experiences these days from time to time, but it often feels like there's no way to shrug that "blah" feeling off your shoulders. However, according to a new study, a 30-minute workout may be the boost you need to improve your self-image.

The study, which was published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, included 75 college-aged women who claimed to be unhappy with the way their bodies looked. The participants completed assessments that asked them about their exercise habits, how much they enjoy exercise, and their confidence about their abilities when it comes to working out, as well as their general stress and energy levels.

After providing their answers, half of the group went on to participate in a challenging 30-minute workout on a stationary bike, while the rest of the women spent that time sitting in a room reading a copy of National Geographic.

Once the 30 minutes were over, both groups of women were again instructed to complete the same initial assessment.

As you may have guessed, the results showed that the women who worked out for 30 minutes (and got to savor those sweet exercise-related endorphins) saw significant improvement in their body image compared to those who simply read a copy of National Geographic.

Looking back on the data, the researchers predict these positive outcomes associated with short bouts of exercise could have long-lasting effects.

The study authors believe these positive effects on self-image could last as long as 20 minutes after the workout itself, but their research did not get a chance to actually test for this.

However, there's plenty of other research out there to support these findings. Those feel-good endorphins that come with a consistent exercise routine can linger for days and have even been shown to significantly reduce feelings of anxiety.

But if you're thinking you can simply squash feelings of self-doubt and anxiety with sporadic SoulCycle classes, think again.

Research shows consistency is key when it comes to the correlation between exercise and confidence levels.

For example, a study from the University of Florida demonstrated that incorporating exercise into your usual routine can improve satisfaction with your body over time, while those who don't exercise regularly usually struggle the most with maintaining a positive body image.

In simpler terms, making time for some sweat in your schedule won't just give you those physical gains -- it'll provide you with incredible and long-lasting #BrainGains.

So, when it comes down to it, it's all about finding ways to move your body that you can genuinely fall in love with. Because once exercise begins to feel like a chore, it'll simply become another source of stress in your life -- and no needs that.