Fitness magazines are a popular accompaniment to indoor workouts, but they may be doing more harm than good for some women, according a study presented at the 54th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in New Orleans.

According to this study, women who exercised and read fitness magazines featuring hyper-fit, images of women reported more anxiety and depression than those who read magazines with no idealized images. Previously published research has consistently shown improved depression, anxiety, and mood after physical activity alone; however, this study indicates that the inclusion of certain fitness magazines during activity have the potential to wipe out psychological benefits.

In this study, two groups of college-age women were testing while cycling for 30 minutes. One group viewed a magazine with ultra-fit images of women while the second group viewed a magazine with no idealized images of women. Participants then reported anxiety, depression and mood levels with a series of questionnaires designed to measure post-exercise feelings.

"Some women may exercise in an attempt to look like the people in these magazines," said Ann Garvin, lead author of the study. "They don't understand that these idealized images are altered, and in turn may perceive themselves as deficient or lazy."

Although this study was done with college-age women, Garvin suspects the results would be similar among women of any age. She suggests non-fitness magazines, novels, or autobiographies of powerful women as healthy alternatives to magazines with idealized images of women.

"It's hard for a woman to feel good about her flawed body when she is overwhelmed by images that only represent flawlessness," Garvin said.

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 20,000 international, national, and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.


Tag Cloud