The calories you burn when you exercise don’t just lower the numbers on the scale; regular exercise can also give your confidence a boost. Research has shown a strong link between physical health and self-esteem, as well as proven how regular exercise can improve your self-esteem.

Most people experience low self-esteem at one point in their lives (if not regularly). Fortunately, you can fight low self-esteem in many ways, such as makeovers (e.g. haircuts, full body permanent hair removal, or get an ear piercing) or life coaching. But due to the quarantine, some of these options are limited or not available. Exercise, however, can be done at home (virtually!) and with family and friends.

How Does Exercise Boost Your Self-Esteem?

One of the most prominent ways exercise can improve your self-confidence is by helping you lose weight and gain more muscle. Other benefits of exercise for your self-esteem include the following:

  • Improve your mental health. Apart from building your physical strength, regular strengthens your mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative moods. It can also alleviate social withdrawal and low self-esteem.
  • Reduce your stress levels. Initially, the thought of exercise can stress you out but the actual activity doesn’t. Any form of exercise, from simple aerobics to complex yoga and strength training, can relieve you from stress. Physical activities boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from the stresses of daily life.
  • Improve your brain function. When you perform an endurance exercise, your brain produces a molecule called irisin, which can have neuroprotective effects that promote better memory.
  • Gain a sense of accomplishment. One of the biggest payoffs of regular exercise is that, through physical movement, discipline, and focus, you can feel better about your progress. Whether you add time to your daily walk or beat an old-time in a dash, you gain a sense of pride when you achieve a goal.
  • Start feeling better. In the short-term, regular physical activity can enhance your mood and encourage you to think positively. In the long run, exercise boosts your self-esteem by making you feel good about your physique and skills, as well as complementing your good health.

How Can You Take Advantage of Exercise for Better Self-Confidence?

If you are struggling with self-confidence issues, here are several strategies you can apply.

Positive Self Talk

The way you think or talk about yourself strongly influences your self-esteem. When you catch yourself dwelling in negative thoughts, stop for a moment. Re-frame your thoughts. For example, if you’re having difficulty in a workout and start thinking, “I can’t even finish this. I’m too weak,” stop your thoughts and re-frame it with something like, “I can’t learn everything in a snap. It takes time. At least, I’m trying.”

There are many circumstances out of your control. Instead of beating yourself over things you can’t control (e.g. fatigue or schedules causing you to miss your workout), reframe your thoughts.

Make a Realistic Game Plan

Set yourself up for success by planning an achievable exercise routine. Just because everyone is doing high-intensity exercises, it doesn’t mean you should do the same. Gauge your capacity. If a simple dance workout is doable, stick to this. Don’t compare your game plan to others.

Next, create a plan dedicated to your chosen exercise. Choose a day or days of the week to exercise. Also, set a goal to improve your motivation.

Track Your Progress

Encourage yourself with how far you’ve come. Seeing your progress gives you a boost of self-esteem especially when you realize you’ve gone farther than you first expected.

A fitness app comes in handy. Most fitness apps have features that record every minute of your workouts, track you’re your body metrics, assesses the changes you’ve made, and take before and after photos. These apps also come with status updates that reward your consistency, which offers boosts of encouragement.

Exercise with a Friend

You don’t have to exercise alone. Engage a friend in your workout pursuit so you can hit two goals with one plan: improve your physical and mental health and have a friend cheer you on.

Due to the social distancing and self-isolation measures, you can’t work out with friends physically but you can meet them online. Share a work-out video you can do together via the screen sharing feature of video conferencing platforms.

There is more to exercising than just losing a couple of pounds; it could mean gaining more points for your self-esteem. Initially, it may seem like a tiring way to feel better about yourself. But once you get into a daily routine and see progress, you’ll realize that exercise is one of the best ways to see the best in you.