Before and after pictures put people off exercising, according to new research

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  • Not only are they seemingly demotivating, they can also leave people feeling insecure about their own bodies

    Body ‘transformation’ images – or ‘before and after’ pictures – actually put people off exercising, according to new research.

    The survey, conducted by Asics, found that 80% of UK respondents said exercise transformation imagery left them feeling demotivated. The sportswear brand also reports that 48% of Brits say the images have left them feeling insecure about their own bodies.

    Also – perhaps not surprisingly – the data shows that 73% of Brits polled believed that society’s obsession with the perfect body image was damaging for our mental health.

    Model and body confidence advocate, Jada Sezer, sat down with Dr Alex George, Motsi Mabusi and the mental health charity Mind to discuss the findings and said she was glad body transformation pictures are being challenged.

    “For me it’s never been about a physical transformation, more of a mental transformation,” she explains. “If I feel good mentally, then I’ve achieved my goal. No pain, no gain, has never resonated with me, it’s always been about how it makes me feel, not look. And I’m proud to be part of a campaign that represents this.”

    Also speaking about his own experience with exercise and body image, Dr Alex – who is the UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador within the Department for Education – said:

    “I have been on a real journey with exercise and the reasons why I do it. When I was younger, I really used exercise as a weapon, to try and look thin, to look a certain way.

    “When I went on Love Island a few years later, I was over training, and it wasn’t good for my mental health. Now, I’ve changed the way I view exercise and it’s really helped my mental health. I move for my mind, rather than to look a certain way.”

    It’s not the first time that body transformation pictures have been flagged as being unhelpful at best, and harmful at worst. Eating disorder charities have previously warned of the triggering implications of before and after body images.

    Speaking to the Huffington Post, Chelsea Kronengold, Associate Director of Communications at the National Eating Disorders Association, explains: “While sometimes well-intentioned, the impact of before and after photos lend to social and body comparisons, which can cause harm to anyone — especially people struggling with body image and eating concerns.”

    Think you might be struggling? How to get help

    If you feel you are struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder, you can reach out to a registered professional who can offer help and support or contact charities like BeatSEED and Mind.

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