Researchers from the Silesian Medical University in Katowice have unearthed a compelling link between snowy landscapes and enhanced body satisfaction, shedding light on the positive impact of wintry environments on mental well-being.
Dr Kamila Czepczor-Bernat and her team delved into the influence of natural surroundings on body image, building on prior studies emphasizing the uplifting effects of green spaces like parks and blue environments such as coastal areas or riversides.
Their latest investigation, detailed in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, extended this exploration to include what they term ‘white spaces’—specifically, snow-covered settings like the Cyganski Las forest in the southern part of Bielsko-Biała.
Last winter, the researchers conducted a study involving 87 women, averaging 24 years old, who embarked on walks within the snow-laden forest. Preceding and following these walks, participants were queried about their self-perception regarding their bodies. Additionally, the researchers gauged their connection to nature and level of self-compassion before engaging in the snowy strolls.
The study’s findings underscored a notable elevation in body satisfaction among the participants after their wintry walks. Dr Czepczor-Bernat highlighted the significance of demonstrating this effect within wintry conditions, in a collective setting, and within a previously overlooked national setting. This suggests the potential robustness of these effects and emphasizes the importance of accessible natural environments as a cost-effective strategy for fostering a healthier body image.
The published article, titled “The Impact of a Woodland Walk on Body Image: A Field Experiment and an Assessment of Dispositional and Environmental Determinants,” illuminates the potential for snowy landscapes to contribute positively to individuals’ perceptions of their bodies, reinforcing the value of integrating natural environments for promoting well-being.