Exercising in front of a mirror may not be a positive motivator for women. The results of a Canadian study published recently in Health Psychology found that sedentary women who exercised in front of a mirror for 20 minutes felt less energized, less relaxed, and less upbeat and positive, compared with women who exercised without a mirror. Also, the study showed that women who did not exercise with a mirror felt less physically exhausted after a workout, whereas those who exercised in front of a mirror reported no changes in their levels of exhaustion.
In the McMaster University study, the researchers interviewed 58 university women who normally did <1 moderate or strenuous 15-minute workout a week. The women were interviewed about their body image and their feelings before and after the workout. For the study, the women rode a stationary bicycle at a moderate pace for 20 minutes. The results do not only pertain to women with poor body image. Even women who felt good about their bodies experienced negative effects while exercising in front of a mirror.
These surprise findings may provide awareness about how to encourage sedentary women to get physically active. Currently, standard guidelines for exercise promotion recommend that workout rooms have mirrors on at least 2 of 4 walls.