Exercise and Body Image-Do They Go Together?

Body image plays a huge part in how often an individual exercises or if they exercise at all.

On the other hand, making regular exercise a part of life naturally improves body image.

When it comes to dealing with a negative body image, there are three types of people:

Overweight and don’t care. There are the people who are overweight and somewhat ashamed of their body are less likely to hit the gym or join fitness classes. They get caught up in a catch-22 situation because they don’t like their appearance, have little to no motivation to exercise, and the circle goes on.

Overweight and can’t seem to beat it. Those who do manage to find a little motivation despite this self incriminating view of themself end up working out alone. Working out alone is not all bad, but can be a boring experience. This leads them to lose interest in exercise and their goals, and eventually stop.

Overweight and changing their body and body image. However, there is another group of people who use their negative body image as a motivation to change their body shape. They know and accept that exercise and a workout routine can greatly improve their appearance and set their mind on doing so. Let’s talk about how exercising can change your body and wind up changing your life and health for the long run.

5 Ways Exercise and Body Image Compliment Each Other

  1. Exercise increases the awareness of the physical abilities of your body
  2. As your physical abilities improve with exercise, you begin to have a higher appreciation for the body you live in
  3. Having more positive thoughts and ideas about your body is increasing your body image
  4. Seeing the concrete visual changes of your body increases your self esteem, the way you think of how you look, and confidence levels
  5. As you see your body changing your self-efficacy increases dramatically which can change many things about your life

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term self-efficacy, it refers to a person’s belief in being able to accomplish a certain task or succeed in certain situations. In other words, exercising will make you more prepared to take on any challenge life throws at you.

Not to mention that you’ll learn how to be motivated to exercise no matter how complicated your life gets (this is very important, as exercising provides you with countless health benefits, so exercising whenever you can is crucial).

A study conducted by the University of Florida shows that working out regularly greatly impacts your body image. When you see the changes in the way your body looks, it will boost your self image, causing you to feel much better about yourself in every way. This is what keeps you motivated to keep going, not to mention the compliments you are likely to receive.

As you start achieving some success with exercising, you will naturally start thinking more about what type of appearance you want for yourself. Depending on your goals, you can choose a workout routine consisting of a lot of cardio exercises, bodyweight exercises, weight lifting, or learning about planks.

Workout Routines for Changing Your Body Image

Burning Fat

If you’re looking to lose weight, then you need to exercise for longer periods of time. Finding workouts that keep you exerting yourself slow and steady for longer periods of time uses the “slow twitch muscle fibers” known for burning fat. Doing sprints and other fast-paced exercises as a part of a short workout, can actually mostly burn carbohydrates instead of fat.

The best method then, is to vary your workout routines. Increasing muscle volume is usually one of the most important things to think about if you are overweight. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder or have a gym membership, but replacing fat with muscle increases your metabolism and helps you lose weight faster.

With that in mind, you will want to include both cardio and weight bearing exercises in your schedule. Weight bearing exercises doesn’t have to include lifting barbells, but can be done with those sexy and lightweight dumbbells you see at WalMart.

Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s probably best to engage in different types of physical activity. If you haven’t been that into exercising before, you should probably start with biking, jogging, walking, and swimming. For staying healthy, all you need is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercising 3 – 5 days a week.

If you’re incredibly busy, then you should research certain workouts that last around 20 minutes. In fact, some people even choose to do only a seven-minute workout every day, and that’s okay if your only goal is to stay healthy.

Muscle Gain

If you want to increase your muscle and strength and get buff, your best bet is to hit the gym and start lifting weights. Every time you push your muscles too hard, they will grow. So, when lifting becomes easy for you, remember to increase the weight in order to see more muscle growth.

Lifting weights will not only improve your appearance, but it will also increase your strength and endurance.


Negative body image is one of the most damaging personal problems that affects self-esteem. Thinking of your body as less than desirable can cause depression, anxiety, withdrawal from society, and eating disorders that spiral the problem.

The change has to start with you. It starts with respect and self love for yourself. Regular exercise can absolutely change the way you think of yourself. Even if exercising never actually changes the shape of your body, the positive and undeniable effects of raising your self confidence and self image can change everything about you.

So, stop putting it off, and get active. Start slow, and exercise at home, in a gym, in the yard, on the streets, anywhere at all. Just start moving to improve that internal body image.

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