Mirrors can make women feel worse about working out

August 01, 2003

Mirrored walls are a regular feature of gym décor, but new research suggests that the reflections may make some women feel worse after their workouts.

A study published in Health Psychology found that sedentary women who exercised in front of a mirror for 20 minutes felt less energized, less relaxed and less positive and upbeat than women who performed their workout without a mirror.

Women who exercised without the mirror also reported that they were less physically exhausted at the end of their workout, while those with a mirror reported no change in their exhaustion level.

The findings could have implications for encouraging physical activity among sedentary women, especially since the standard guidelines for exercise promotion suggest that workout rooms have mirrors on at least two of four walls.

"As such, the recommended practice of placing mirrors in exercise centers may need to be reconsidered, especially in centers that are trying to attract exercise initiates," say Kathleen A. Martin Ginis, Ph.D., of McMaster University and colleagues.

"Certainly if a woman leaves the gym feeling even worse than when she arrived, she will not be particularly motivated to continue exercising in the future," Martin Ginis adds.

Even women who felt good about their bodies experienced these negative effects in front of their reflections, say the researchers.

"So this isn't just a phenomenon unique to women with poor body image," Martin Ginis says.

Martin Ginis and colleagues studied 58 university women who normally participated in less than one moderate or strenuous 15-minute bout of exercise each week. The women were interviewed about their body image and their feelings before and after working out.

Each woman then rode a stationary bike at a moderate pace for 20 minutes while wearing loose-fitting shorts, a T-shirt and running shoes.

The researchers say that more work needs to be done in "real-world exercise environments" and on women outside of the university community to see if the negative effects of mirrors are widespread.

Health Behavior News Service: 202-387-2829 or http://www.hbns.org.
Interviews: Contact Kathleen Martin Ginis at 905-525-9140, x 23574 or martink@univmail.cis.mcmaster.ca.
Health Psychology : Contact Arthur Stone, Ph.D., at 631-632-8833.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Body Image Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 anxiety linked to body image issues
A new study has found that anxiety and stress directly linked to COVID-19 could be causing a number of body image issues.

Mirror image tumor treatment
Our immune system ought to be able to recognize and kill tumor cells.

Most parents concerned about privacy, body image impact of tweens using health apps
Most parents say they have concerns about how health apps may impact children ages 8-12, according to the C.S.

Instagram and the male body image
In a new study among males depicted on Instagram, the majority of posts showed men with low body fat, while only a small fraction depicted men with high body fat.

Gardening helps to grow positive body image
New research has found that allotment gardening promotes positive body image, which measures someone's appreciation of their own body and its functions, and an acceptance of bodily imperfections.

Whole body ownership is not just the sum of each part of the body
Differences between whole body and body part ownership were clarified using scrambled body stimulation in a virtual environment, wherein the observer's hands and feet were presented in randomized spatial arrangements.

Disclaimers on retouched photos don't solve problem of negative body image
Labels that warn an image has been altered or enhanced do nothing to mitigate women's negative perceptions of their appearance, according to a study published in Body Image this week.

Whether a fashion model or not, some body image concerns are universal
When researchers from UCLA and the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, wanted to test an app they created to measure body image perception, they went to the body image experts -- fashion models.

Short-term study suggests vegan diet can boost gut microbes related to body weight, body composition and blood sugar control
New research presented at this year's Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain (Sept.

As light as a lemon: How the right smell can help with a negative body image
The scent of a lemon could help people feel better about their body image, new findings from University of Sussex research has revealed.

Read More: Body Image News and Body Image Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.