New research shows that the natural environment has a powerful effect on promoting positive body image - and you don't even have to set foot outdoors to experience the benefits.

The research, published in the journal Body Image, involved five separate studies carried out by academics from Anglia Ruskin University, Perdana University in Malaysia, and University College London.

In three studies, using different designs and measures, university students in Cambridge and London were shown photographs of both natural and built environments, with results showing that exposure to images of natural, but not built, environments resulted in improved body image.

A fourth study involved members of the public walking in both natural and built environments in and around Hampstead Heath in London, while the final study involved participants who were recruited as they were entering the park at Primrose Hill in London.

Both of these studies indicated that spending time in a natural environment resulted in significantly higher body appreciation.

Previous research has shown that the natural environment has a beneficial effect on both mental and physical health, while a number of activities including sports, dance, yoga and life drawing classes have been shown to promote and develop positive body image.

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