When we think of how exercise positively impacts our bodies and lives, typically, we think of the physical benefits. Physical exercise has gained quite the reputation for helping us get in better shape and prevent chronic illnesses. Regular exercise has been shown to help prevent the onset of various diseases. Exercise can protect against and prevent many chronic diseases. However, did you know you can improve your mental health with exercise as well? So how does exercise improve mental health?
There are countless studies that demonstrate how exercise can improve your mental health. I mean, it makes sense. What is one of the primary reasons you hear people say they want to get into the gym? While the reason may change from person to person, a really common reason is to gain some confidence.
Confidence From Exercise
Confidence is a strange thing. It’s something we feel but isn’t technically an emotion. Confidence is often times associated with self-esteem. While similar, the two are actually different. Confidence is in reference to how you feel about performing a task successfully. While self-esteem is in reference to how you feel about yourself, whether that’s your behavior or how you look.
There are common situations where you might have plenty of self-esteem but no confidence or vice versa. For example, I may have good self-esteem. However, I definitely don’t have the confidence that I can successfully cover Amari Cooper when he’s running a pass route. He would leave me in the dust.
Furthermore, say I start to venture outside of my comfort zone and accomplish tasks I didn’t think I could. That would expand my view of what I personally think I’m capable of. In the long run, that will start to improve my self-esteem. I will start to accomplish more tasks that were traditionally outside my comfort zone. The reason being is, accomplishing new tasks lends itself to feelings of accomplishment and in general, a more positive mindset.
This makes sense because accomplishing new and harder tasks releases endorphins or what many people call “feel-good hormones”.
The Goal Driven Mindset
What we just touched on somewhat outlines what we refer to as a goal-driven mindset. Extrapolating what we just covered, but in the context of fitness, things start to make sense.
When we talk about fitness, there always seems to be an underlying goal. Whether it be to get healthy, improve looks, or engage in competitions. Goals are great because they help us expand our comfort zones. They also boost our confidence levels and eventually our self-esteem.
One of the major reasons fitness pays its dues so well in mental health is because it promotes goal-driven mindsets. People who operate under goal-driven mindsets are more likely to operate outside of their comfort zones. Along with this comes the higher likelihood of accomplishing new things but also of failing in new ways.
Failing in new ways is just as important as succeeding in new ways. People who fail frequently gain more life experience. Additionally, they are less scared of failing, simply because they have been there before.
Because of this, those who participate in a regular fitness regiment are less scared of failure. The concept of failure slowly becomes detached from their ego which yields positive gains in both confidence and self-esteem.
Mental Illness and Regular Exercise
Besides confidence and self-esteem, there are many other areas you improve mental health with exercise. As we have discussed, exercise has a rather high potential for improving your self-esteem. But exercise also can serve as a mechanism to help remedy and anxiety as well.
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