The Winter Wonderland effect: How a walk in the snow helps boost body image
Do you ever feel down about your body? Bundling up and taking a walk in the snow may help improve your body image. Viv Williams has details of a new study in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."
ROCHESTER — If you dread the cold and snow of winter, a new study might help you find it more tolerable. The research shows that spending time outside in snowy weather helps improve how you feel about your body.
Nature's effect on mental and physical health is not new. But this study, from the Medical University of Silesia, in Katowice, Poland, and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the UK, is the first to show that white spaces, such as snow-covered woodlands, are beneficial, too.
Women in the study assessed their body appreciation before and after taking a walk in the snow. Results show that spending a short amount of time in nature – in this case approximately 40 minutes – results in greater body appreciation. This holds true for people walking alone or in small groups.
“Natural environments help to restrict negative appearance-related thoughts and shift attention away from an aesthetic view of the body and toward greater appreciation of the body’s functionality," says Dr. Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at ARU. "Positive body image is important not only in its own right, but has other beneficial effects, including more positive psychological well-being."
Swami says it's important for people to know that they can access restorative natural environments, which may be a cost-effective was to promote a healthier body image. And that being outside has health benefits no matter what the weather.
The study is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
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