updated 12/14/2005 1:38:32 PM ET 2005-12-14T18:38:32

Feeling better about your body?

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That could depend on whether you're a man or a woman.

For guys, a slimmer silhouette or baggier pants might be enough to inspire a "yes."

Women, on the other hand, like harder proof their workouts are working. They feel better when they can to lift heavier bags of groceries or do more leg presses, according to a new study.

This latest men-are-from-Mars-women-from-Venus news comes from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where researchers looked at gender differences when it comes to body image.

Researchers put 25 men and 16 women through a 12-week strength-training program. Participants were asked about their body image before and after, and were also given objective tests, such as bicep curls and body fat measurements.

Body images improved for both men and women, but the reasons were different between the sexes. Men tended to cite criteria like feeling thinner or stronger. That was important to women too, but they also were into numbers, such as measurements showing stronger arms and legs, according to the study being published in the journal Body Image.

Author Kathleen Martin Ginis, associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster, said that while women often focus on appearance, this study suggests that they can also get a boost in self-esteem by focusing on their strength.

"For men, the absolute amount of weight they can lift may not be as important," she said, "as long as it's more than the guy next to him at the gym can lift."

Christy Greenleaf, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of North Texas who was not involved in the study, said she was not surprised that women were interested in gauging their gains.

"They may be less familiar with how strong they are," she said.

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