If you struggle to maintain a positive image, the solution could be right outside your window. New research has found that exposure to natural environments can actually help to boost a person's appreciation of their body.
The research published in the Body Image journal involved five different studies carried out by academics from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, Perdana University in Malaysia, and University College London.
In three separate studies, university students in London and Cambridge were shown photographs of natural environments - fields or forests, for example - as well as photographs of built environments like office blocks and town centres. Looking at the natural images "resulted in improved state body image", researchers write, whereas looking at the built images didn't.
Another study saw participants take a walk in the greenery of London's Hampstead Heath, as well as the built streets and squares that surround it. "The walk in a natural environment resulted in significantly higher state body appreciation, whereas the walk in a built environment resulted in significantly lower scores," researchers write.
The fifth study found that people who took a walk in another of London's green spaces, Primrose Hill, benefited from "improved state body appreciation" afterwards.
The study's lead author, Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, said of the results: "There are several reasons why exposure to nature could be having this effect on positive body image. It might be that it distances people, physically and mentally, from appearance-focused situations that are one of the causes of negative body image."
"Access to nature may also mean that individuals spend more time outdoors engaging in activities that focus attention on the body's functionality rather than aesthetics," Professor Swami added.
Obviously everyone already knows that taking a walk is good for you. But now it seems just looking at pictures of the great outdoors can be beneficial too.
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