We all have those days when the mirror is just not our friend. Good news for anyone who needs a quick body image pick-me-up: A single 30-minute workout is all it takes to feel pretty damn great about your physique, according to a new study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise.
Sure, it may seem obvious that a workout would tighten you up. But researchers at the University of British Columbia found that it’s more about mental perception. When participating women who were feeling down and out about their appearance cycled once for 30 minutes straight, they felt thinner and stronger post-workout. But, more importantly, the feeling stayed with them well after they left the gym.
In this case, it has less to do with endorphins and more to do with the intensity of the exercise and the goals you can set while doing them. When you do something empowering—like cycling, where you’re clocking multiple miles and adjusting the resistance for uphill and downhill—it makes you feel mentally stronger than, say, 30 mindless minutes on the elliptical machine.
Don’t get us wrong: Any form of exercise is good for you physically, but if you’re keen on boosting your self-esteem, opt for a workout that makes you feel like you own the gym.