Mental Health & Body Image

How Do You Feel about Your Body?

Amazing? Empowered? Happy? Healthy? Liberated? They’re just some of the positive words our members use for those great days when they feel great about their body. But of course, even at Xercise4Less gyms we don’t always feel happy about how we look. And that has a big impact on our mental health.

We know that a positive body image is key to better “overall well being and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours”. A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 20% of adults polled felt ‘shame’ or ‘disgust’ because of their body, while 34% felt ‘down’ or ‘low’ when they considered their body image.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we decided to survey our members and social media followers to get a better sense of how they really feel about their bodies. You can also find out what our head office staff said here!  

So, what did our 526 survey respondents think?

Gym Members of Every Possible Body Shape

At Xercise4Less Gyms everyone is welcome whatever your body shape is and whatever your fitness goals are. Our friendly fitness team and Personal Trainers are there not to judge but to support you whether you’re working towards a body building competition or just want to work off your Christmas dinner. We’re focused on improving your health and well being, for us strong is not a size!

In our survey of a Xercise4Less gym members, we asked ‘how happy are you with your body?’. While almost 35% said they were ‘Not happy at all’, encouragingly over 62% said they were ‘A little happy’ or ‘Mostly happy’ with how their bodies look. That’s very important as our self-esteem can be hit badly by a negative body image and those body image concerns can endure from child to adult and affect both women and men.

 We work closely with our members to motivate them for work outs, so it was interesting to see how often they felt 100% positive about their bodies? Over 40% said they ‘Never’ felt good about their body image while 24% had a positive image of their body ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Half the time’. Just over 10% of our respondents felt positive about their bodies ‘Always’.

What causes those negative body images?

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A Real Concern About Your Body Image

If you’ve ever felt down about your body, you’re far from alone. According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost 70% of teenagers and adults have either been anxious or depressed directly because of their body image.

Our view of our own body is affected in very many different ways, but we are heavily influenced by how our family and friends talk about appearance and by our exposure to unrealistic body images through advertising and social media.

You might think then that taking ‘gym selfies’ would be a wholly negative thing. Our gym members would seem to disagree. Of those who take ‘gym selfies’, most are concerned with positive progression rather than an obsession with how others perceive them. Xercise4Less gym members think gym selfies give them a sense of achievement, make them proud, and instill confidence in their future fitness journey. As for other people taking gym selfies, the members of our gyms feel inspired rather than depressed, “good on them” being the attitude.

Working Out the Best Mental Approach for Your Health 

We can work with you at Xercise4Less gyms to work out how to get the best from your fitness programme but why do our members and social media followers exercise? Simply, the positive feelings that our members get about themselves and their bodies.

When asked how would they describe those days when they were feeling positive? The replies range from “I’m happy I’m alive” and “I’m positive about how I am” to “I am me, what could be better?” or “like I can conquer the word”.  Positive-feeling members also used words like “Strong”, “Confident”, “Glowing” and even “Plumpicious”!

The benefits of regular exercise sound pretty good, don’t they?

A Healthy Transformation with Xercise4Less Gyms

At Xercise4Less we see ourselves as a supportive community of fitness enthusiasts. We provide the motivational support our gym members need as they start their fitness journey or as they continue to transform their body. We understand that being supported is vital because many studies have shown that body appreciation is tied to consistent well being and fewer dieting problems.

There are things however that you can do as an individual to take better care of yourself. If you find that your body image is getting you down, why not speak to a health professional or a friend that you can trust? Or work with one of our Personal Trainers on realistic fitness goals. Take time out too to appreciate the strides that you’ve already made in the gym or look forward to the payoff for joining a People’s Gym. Try to not pay too much attention either to the unrealistic body images presented on social media, on TV or in glossy magazines.

Whether you want to transform your body shape or just have some fun exercising, we are there to support you every step of the way, mind and body.

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