Published: 29 November 2022 at 09:21
New study is the first to show that snowy landscapes can boost body appreciation
Research has shown for the first time that spending time in snowy surroundings can improve how you feel about your body.
Previous studies have found that green spaces, such as parks and forests, and ‘blue environments’, such as being at the coast or close to a river, can improve body image.
Now new research, published this month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, has discovered that white spaces, in this case a snow-covered woodland, can have a similar effect.
Led by academics from the Medical University of Silesia, in Katowice, Poland, and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the UK, the research was carried out last winter and involved 87 women, with an average age of 24, who took part in small groups.
Before and after walking in a snowy woodland in the Silesia region of Poland, the participants completed a measure of their body appreciation. Before the walk, they also completed measures of connectedness to nature and self-compassion.
The study found that spending a short amount of time in nature – in this case approximately 40 minutes – results in greater body appreciation. Additionally, people who scored highly in the trait of self-compassion displayed greater improvement in body appreciation.
As well as being the first study to examine the body image benefits of spending time in a snowy landscape, it is also the first to show that these benefits can be achieved when being in nature in small groups, rather than individually.
Lead author Dr Kamila Czepczor-Bernat, of the Medical University of Silesia, said:
Senior author Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:
The full open access study is available at https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/19/21/14548.
Prof Viren Swami has also explored the effect of green spaces and blue environments on our body image and self-esteem – and by extension our mental health.