Getting a good workout can be healthy for your mind and body. Most people already know that working out increases physical health, but it can also change how people feel. Research published in 2016 shows that perceived fitness and body image influence the way people feel about themselves . When you perceive yourself as fit, your self-esteem gets a boost. However, for some folks, it might be hard to get started on a new workout routine that can raise confidence levels. Thankfully, there are ways to create a workout that has your self-esteem in mind. If you’re looking for some tips on boosting self-esteem with your workout, check out these recommendations so you can start building up your confidence.
1. Set Realistic Goals
By creating targets for your workout, you are defining success. That way you don’t stop when you can’t perceive the results. Sometimes, what you see in the mirror or visualize in your head isn’t really your fitness level, especially if you have issues with self-image. When you don’t feel like you’re making progress, that’s when you might stop working out all together. Setting goals takes the “feeling” out of your workout’s results. In other words, setting goals like “complete a beginner’s level 30 day squat challenge” allows you to measure results. Setting workout goals that are specific and attainable could help you raise your self-esteem by showing you what you can do each day, and over time, if you set your mind to it. Read more about the connection between exercise and self-esteem.
2. Track Progress
After you set your goals, be sure to track your progress. For example, you might be interested in erector spinae exercises so you can decrease back pain and improve posture. Tracking your progress for this goal would involve measuring how this muscle group responds to the exercises over time. To see whether pain has decreased, you can keep a journal where you write down pain levels from day to day. Plus, you can track how you’ve improved with frequency or repetition each time you do your workout. These days there are many apps and helpful tools to help you track any type of physical activity. Some may even ask you what your goals are, and then help you find methods for reaching those goals. Keeping track of your progress helps you stay focused on your goals, which can improve your overall grit and tenacity.
3. Celebrate Milestones
When you celebrate your accomplishments, you’re also celebrating personal growth. Showing yourself some appreciation for the dedication you’ve shown to your workout goals can really elevate your self-esteem. It further engages you with the hard work you put in, and makes you more likely to believe you can do something like that again. Plus, celebrating an achievement really solidifies that milestone as being special. It can inspire you with the energy you need to begin working on your next set of fitness goals. When it comes to celebrating fitness goals, try to do something for yourself that showcases your achievement. Maybe buy that new outfit that you’ve been eyeing or have some new family photos taken.
4. Have Fun
To some people, working out sounds like all work and no play. However, there are plenty of nontraditional ways to feel the burn. Just 30 minutes of cardio is more than enough time to get your heart pumping, but you don’t have to go running to get that benefit. Any cardiovascular exercise will do, even dancing. Many gyms have included dance-based exercise classes in their schedules, so you don’t have to dance alone in your room. You can also join a sports team instead of a gym. Consider signing up for a softball league or a volleyball tournament. In addition, the camaraderie of being on a team could help raise your self-esteem. Either way, you’ll likely get a healthy dose of confidence boosting endorphins. Therefore, boosting self esteem with your workout can be fun!
5. Make a Mind-Body Connection
If you’re especially interested in how working out can help your mental health, including exercises that make a mind-body connection also may be helpful. Mind-body exercises include hiking, swimming, yoga and gardening. In each of these activities, your mind and body are both engaged in the present physical activity. On the other hand, something like running is very mechanical. That’s why you may find your mind wandering during your 30 minute jog. Some additional benefits of mind-body exercises are reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increased levels of the feel-good chemical dopamine. When it comes to self-confidence, these two chemicals can make a big difference. Reduced cortisol allows you to remain calm in high stress situations, so you feel and seem more confident.
Exercise can be about more than just getting physically fit. It can also be about getting mentally fit by boosting self-esteem with your workout. Now you have even more reasons to start a workout regimen this new year.
Zamani Sani, S. H., Fathirezaie, Z., Brand, S., Pühse, U., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., Gerber, M., & Talepasand, S. (2016). Physical activity and self-esteem: testing direct and indirect relationships associated with psychological and physical mechanisms. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 2617–2625. doi:10.2147/NDT.S116811
Wilson, K., & Brookfield, D. (2009). Effect of goal setting on motivation and adherence in a six-week exercise program. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7(1), 89–100.
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach, Teacher and author of Self Esteem Secrets. His qualifications include Masters and DipLC. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Development.