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    Asics ad jolts image-obsessed social media into serious mental health conversations

    Sportswear brand Asics is running a body transformation campaign with a difference across gyms and out-of-home (OOH) locations.

    A series of before-and-after images show the transformative effect of exercise not in terms of physique but mental wellbeing, highlighting society’s fixation on aesthetic beauty above other considerations.

    With no discernable visible difference between the before-and-after shots, the campaign shows that it is often what we can’t see that truly matters when considering health and wellness.

    Stepping up to the plate are TV personality Dr Alex George, who stands alongside philanthropist Jada Sezer and TV host Motsi Mabuse by promoting the fruits of their workout regimens – much to the confusion of image-obsessed social media users expecting toned abs and lost flab.

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    Hayley Jarvis, head of physical activity at Mind, said: “Mind is a firm believer in the power of movement, however small, to support better mental health. Our aim is to support more people to get active to help them to thrive. Our own research shows that many people are put off exercising because they feel self-conscious. The more we can do to remove the barriers to people enjoying the benefits of exercise, the better.”

    The campaign dovetails with research suggesting that 73% of Britons understand that an obsession with appearances is detrimental to mental health, with 80% of audiences turned off exercising by the traditional exercise transformation images showing near-unrecognizable changes.

    Al Wood, executive creative director at Golin, added: “Body transformation pictures are everywhere, suggesting to people that exercise should be about extreme physical change. It’s elitist and demotivating. This campaign aims to balance the conversation by showing that, whatever your body or athleticism, you can experience a dramatic mental transformation from exercise. More important than a six-pack.”

    Previously Asics invited athletes not to exercise for seven days to assess the impact on their mental health.

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