Experience in the gypsy forest.  Such walks increase satisfaction with your own body

Previous studies have shown that green spaces such as parks and forests as well as a so-called blue environment, such as the coast or near a river, can improve your body image. The latest study by Dr. Camila Chepczor-Bernat’s team added white spaces to this group, i.e. a snow-covered forest.

The experiment was conducted last winter. 87 women with an average age of 24 were walking in the snow-covered Ghajar forest located in the southern part of Bielsko-Biawa. Before and after the walk, the researchers asked the participants how they rated their bodies. In addition, before the trip, they also measured their connection to nature and their level of self-compassion.

It turns out that spending a little time in nature — about 40 minutes — led to significant improvements in the appreciation and satisfaction of your own body. In addition, the researchers found that self-compassion, but not connection with nature, was significantly associated with greater improvements in self-esteem.

“We wanted to assess the extent to which two mood traits — attachment to nature and self-compassion — influence the issue under study. Based on previous publications, we hypothesized that a stronger connection with nature and a higher level of self-compassion should be of significant importance,” says Dr. Chepczur-Bernat.

However, it turns out that only the second factor is important. As the researcher explains, this is consistent with other cross-sectional studies showing that self-compassion significantly mediates the relationship between exposure to nature and body appreciation.

“It is likely that people who have a high degree of self-compassion also have dispositional traits that allow them to make the most of their connection with nature,” he explains. “They calm down more easily and relax more quickly, which in turn leads to a softer self-perception.

By contrast, the level of perceived connection with nature was not a significant predictor of changes in body evaluation. – However, this is not only the first study devoted to the benefits of spending time in snowy landscapes, but also the first to show that these benefits can be achieved by staying in nature not only individually, but also in small groups, – assures Dr. Kamila Czepczor-Bernat.

– There is now a lot of evidence showing that exposure to nature, that is, living close to it, being in its lap, and frequent contact with environments such as forests and parks, is associated with a number of benefits related to physical and mental well-being – says the researcher. “However, unlike previous studies that focused on the effects of blue and green environments on body image, we are the first to show the positive effect of spending time in a snowy environment.” It turns out to be equally effective in improving your body awareness.

“The natural environment helps to reduce negative thoughts about appearance and redirect attention from the object perceived solely for aesthetic reasons to a greater appreciation of its functions,” adds the professor. Viren Swamy, a psychologist at Anglia Ruskin University, is a co-author of the publication. A positive body image is important because it has very important effects on all mental functioning.

According to the authors, by engaging in some form of physical activity such as walking in a natural, regenerating environment, participants can focus more on feeling grateful for what their bodies allow them to achieve and adopt an attitude of self-care.

“Our findings show how important it is to give everyone access to a compensatory natural environment,” the researchers concluded. It can be a cost-effective and effective way to promote a healthier body image. So let’s be outdoors no matter the weather.

In addition to scientists from UUM and Anglia Ruskin University (UK), specialists from the Institute of Pedagogy of the University of Technology and Humanities in Bielsko-Biała also participated in the study.

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