By Alice Clifford via SWNS
Walking in a winter wonderland can boost body confidence, new research claims.
Spending time in snowy surroundings can improve how people feel about their body.
While previous studies have found that green spaces, such as parks and forests, and blue areas, such as lakes and rivers, can improve body image, now white spaces could do the same.
The researchers sent 87 women in small groups out into a snowy woodland. The participants had an average age of 24.
Before and after taking a walk in a snowy area in the Silesia region of Poland, each participant completed a measure of their body appreciation.
Before the walk, they also completed measures of connectedness to nature and self-compassion.
The study found that spending a short amount of time in a snowy landscape, in this case around 40 minutes, had the power to boost body appreciation.
Viren Swami, a professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, and senior author of the study, said: “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.”
The researchers also found that people who had great levels of self-compassion displayed greater improvement in body appreciation after their walk.
While the study shows the benefits of spending time in the snow, it is also reveals that these benefits can be achieved when being in nature in small groups, rather than individually.
Dr. Kamila Czepczor-Bernat, of the Medical University of Silesia, and lead author of the study, said: “A body of evidence now exists showing that nature exposure – living close to, frequenting, or engaging with environments such as forests and parks – is associated with a range of physical and psychological wellbeing benefits.
“However, in contrast to previous studies which have focused on the impact of blue and green natural environments on body image outcomes, ours is the first to show the positive impact on body appreciation from spending time in snow-covered environments.”
Swami added: “Positive body image is important not only in its own right, but has other beneficial effects, including more positive psychological wellbeing.
“Our findings demonstrate the importance of ensuring that everyone can access restorative natural environments, which may be a cost-effective way of promoting healthier body image and highlight that there are significant benefits of being outside in nature, whatever the weather.”
This study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
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