Mind over magazine?

June 25, 2008 at 1:30 am Leave a comment

Turns out, reading a fitness magazine while exercising can demotivate, rather than inspire, according to a new study authored by Ann Wertz Garvin, a health and physical education professor at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater

“The results suggest that negative effects of reading ultra-fit magazines may cancel out the mood-boosting effects of exercise, says Garvin. Exactly why is unclear, though she speculates that women may become depressed because they feel they’ll never look as good as the magazine models or that the women already look fit but have low self-esteem and seeing the images doesn’t help.”

I can relate to these results although I don’t read while I’m exercising.  (The workouts I do now don’t allow for reading, but even when I went to the gym, I listened to music or watched TV instead of reading.)  I suscribe to several fitness magazines, including Oxygen, which was used in the study, and I can confirm that thumbing through them is sometimes depressing.

The mags periodically bum me out because they set standards that seem impossible to achieve, at least for me.  I occasionally come away from reading them with the feeling that I’m not working hard enough.  Unfortunately, that feeling doesn’t inspire me to work harder; it just makes it harder for me to keep working out.

Thankfully, this isn’t a huge issue for me.  I’ve been extremely consistent with my exercise since I started my lifestyle change nearly six years ago, and I suspect I always will be.  The mags are more disheartening from a body image standpoint than anything else.  Of course, that’s an issue I have struggled with for a long time, so I certainly don’t fault the publications for it.  I have learned, though, to stop reading them during times when I’m feeling particularly negative about my appearance.  No need to add fuel to the fire during a difficult spell.  The mags will always be there when I am feeling more optimistic and can really benefit from the great ideas and advice they offer.

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Entry filed under: coping strategies, morale boosters, news around the blogosphere, science, self image.

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