If you’re a woman with body image issues, you may get more benefit from an exercise class where the instructor emphasizes health, not appearance.
That’s true even if you’re exercising only to improve your appearance.
In a report that recently appeared in the journal, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, researchers studied 99 college-aged women who chronically worry that others are analyzing their bodies.
When these women went to step-aerobics classes, they were more likely to return if their instructors made comments which emphasized getting fit and healthy.
If their instructors commented on weight or appearance, the women were less likely to keep going to an exercise class – even if the women originally joined the class to improve their appearance.
The same was true if the instructor wore a loose-fitting t-shirt and shorts instead of a snug aerobics outfit.
The women enjoyed their workouts more and felt more involved and revitalized when the emphasis was on health.
Surprisingly, the presence of mirrors in the classroom seemed to make no difference as to how the women felt about exercising.
The researchers concluded that it was the instructor’s style of leading the class that affected the women’s attitudes about exercising.
So if you have body image issues, you may benefit more from an exercise class where the instructor emphasizes your health, not your appearance.