A recent study was performed at Canada's McMaster University, and the researchers included Kathleen Ginis, PhD, of the school's kinesiology department. Participants were 28 men and 16 women. They were 21 years old, on average, and had been sedentary for at least six months. That meant they had been physically active for less than two days per week.
The participants were given a survey that asked various questions about their body image. They rated how anxious they felt about other people evaluating their bodies, and how satisfied they were (or weren't) with their bodies, amongst other questions. Baseline measures of body fat, muscularity, and strength were measured.
All participants did strength training five days per week for 12 weeks, under a personal trainers supervision.
All participants improved on strength, body fat, and muscularity and had better body images at the study's end. But women and men saw things a bit differently. For men, body image improved if they simply felt better for doing strength training. They didn't need to see objective evidence of their gains in strength.
Women's body image also improved if they personally felt good about their progress. But they also got an extra boost in body image from objective measurements of their increased strength.
The study was small, especially in terms of female participants, the researchers note. Still, they write that 'the results support the notion that strength training provides women with objective positive feedback about their physical capabilities, which, in turn, causes them to feel better about their bodies.'
Source: Ginis, K. Body Image, December 2005: vol 2: pp 363-372.
So how do you get started with weights training? For starters have a look at our introduction to weights training here. Or for more reasons why women should lift weights here.
To find out more about improving your body image with weights, body image, or strength training contact us!