Fitness Hack: Focus on What Your Body Can Do Rather Than How it Looks

We live in an appearance-obsessed culture, which often encourages us to place too much importance on how we look, which in turn can lead to a more negative body image. A recent study was published in Body Image: An International Journal of Research, that explored one powerful change you can make to feel better about your body: focus on what your body can do. Here’s everything you need to know about the newest insights into developing body positivity:

What did the study do?

261 British women between the ages of 18 and 30 who wanted to improve their body image were recruited for the study. They were randomly split into two groups: the functionality program and the control program. The participants in the functionality program completed three online writing exercises over the course of a week. Each writing exercise asked participants to describe the functions that their body can perform within the two categories (bodily senses and creative endeavors). They were also asked to explain why these functions are personally meaningful. The control program did similar writing exercises but on a neutral topic. The participants completed questionnaires that assessed their body image at regular intervals throughout the study. Their responses to beauty-ideal media images were also assessed. 

What did the study find? 

By the end of the study, the women in the functionality program experienced significant improvements in body image. These women also thought of their body in more complex ways compared to the women in the control program. 

The take-home message 

By focusing on everything your body can do, rather than how it looks, you can cultivate a more positive body image. Additionally, by taking the time to focus on your body functionality, you may start to think of your body in more complex terms. The next time you’re at the gym or in a fitness class, take the time to appreciate everything your body is doing for you. Look at yourself in the mirror in awe as you lift weights, feel the impact as you hit the punching bag. The more you appreciate what your body can do, the more confident and powerful you’ll feel, regardless of your dress size. 

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