If so, get rid of the mirror
From ABC (AU)
Last Update: Saturday, August 2, 2003. 7:53am (AEST)
Mirrors may hamper women's exercise
Wall-to-wall mirrors in gyms and dance studios might stop women getting the exercise they need, Canadian researchers say.
The scientists found that women who work out in front of a mirror get discouraged and feel tired.
The study, published in the journal Health Psychology, focused on young women who exercised less than 15 minutes a week.
It found that regardless of how they viewed their bodies, women who worked out in front of a mirror felt worse, or no better, and less at peace after 20 minutes of activity.
Kathleen Martin Ginis, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, was the lead author of the study.
"The mirrors make women more self-aware, they think of their shortcomings," she said.
"Things like: 'I look fat, I should be more active'.
"When women are more introspective, they might feel 'I'm not that great' unfortunately."
The survey questioned 58 women with an average age of 22.
Participants took turns on stationary bicycles, working out either in front of a mirror or with the mirror curtained over.
Whether the participant felt comfortable about her body or not, the outcome was the same - women who did not have to watch themselves exercise felt calmer, more positive and more revitalised at the end of their session.
Still, Professor Martin Ginis stressed that mirrors can be positive and functional.
"I don't want to convey the idea that we should rip out gym mirrors," she said.
She says exercisers often needed to see their form, or assess if they are using the correct muscles groups during strength training.
But things were different for beginners. "For beginner exercisers, mirrors can be daunting," she said.
Professor Martin Ginis suggested gyms provide areas without mirrors to encourage novice exercisers. And women could get fit without using a gym anyway, she said.
"Women don't need to exercise in a gym," she said. "Thirty minutes of walking or hiking is good too. There are other ways to get your exercise."
I seem to recall someone marketing mirrors that make you look a little taller and thinner, like the fun house mirrors but not that extreme. Maybe they should put those in gyms! It would certainly boost my moral and give me encouragement