Everyone has those days when they're feeling kind of down on themselves and their self-esteem is in need of some major TLC. When you feel that way, you might vent to a friend you trust, or journal about your feelings, but you might not know that working out makes you more confident from the inside out. And no, I'm not just talking about the physical changes you'll see in your body that'll make you be like, "Damn, I look good." A regular workout routine can have a huge impact on your mental health, and in turn, your self-confidence — and yes, there's lots of science to back this up, my friends.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, self-esteem refers to how you truly feel about yourself at your core, and it's "a key indicator of our mental wellbeing and our ability to cope with life stressors." And while many people are aware of how strong and capable exercise makes you feel on the outside, what really matters is knowing how your workouts provide you with internal self-confidence, and how they make you feel like the best version of yourself.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there's usually an instant mood-enhancing effect about five minutes after you start a sweat sesh. And while that flood of feel-good endorphins feels absolutely incredible, it's important to realize that including exercise in your day-to-day routine has long-lasting effects on your mental health, as well.
The APA reports that, when done consistently, exercise helps reduce long-term feelings of depression and anxiety, and in turn, can help you maintain a healthy sense of self-confidence. Moreover, a 2000 study published in the International Journal of Sport Psychology found that regular physical activity was a highly effective way of building self-confidence for people who stuck to a consistent workout routine for six months. With all of that in mind, just imagine the shifts in self-confidence that you might experience after years of working out on the reg. Mind. Blown.
Of course, it's easy to sit here and point out all the ways in which working out benefits your mental health, but it's a lot harder to actually implement these changes into your daily routine, especially if you already have trouble finding free time in a hectic schedule.
Just 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise is more than enough to trigger the release of beta-endorphins, which are the chemicals that lower stress and anxiety, and increase feelings of well-being, LIVESTRONG reports.
Fortunately, this also means you don't have to choose the hardest workout you can find on the internet to enjoy those boosts in self-confidence. Mind-body exercises, which are workouts that challenge your physical body, and incorporate some sort of mental or spiritual aspect as well, have been shown to decrease stress and anxiety levels very effectively, without pushing your body to its absolute limits, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Of course, if you are into the more intense stuff, like HIIT circuits or CrossFit, by all means, go forth and do you, girl. But if you're not about high-intensity exercise, little forms of movement, like an impromptu dance session, a slow, nourishing, yoga flow, or even a leisurely stroll with friends, can provide all the same benefits, and honestly, you might feel so awesome that you'll forget you're even exercising in the first place.