Everyone knows that working out is great for your body. After a sweat sesh, perhaps you feel strong, speedy, or simply amazed by what your body can accomplish (hell yeah you just did five burpees in a row). But maybe you don’t really stop to think about the deeper, more complex things that exercise can teach you when you’re mid-burpee (aka barely able to breathe and drenched in copious amounts of sweat). If not, I’m here to tell you that there’s a whole lot more than meets the eye when it comes to a good workout.
Just like it’s common knowledge that working out benefits your physical body, it’s really no secret that exercise can be great for your mental health, too. For one thing, the endorphins — aka "happy" hormones produced in the brain — that flood your body after a quality sweat sesh are beyond comparison. What’s more, according to research published in The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the official journal of the Association of Medicine and Psychiatry, exercise has been linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and negative mood, as well as improved self-esteem.
With all of these incredible benefits in mind, it makes sense that moving your body in ways you love is bound to teach you some life lessons along the way, right? Here are six things exercise can teach you, according to fitness experts who have been there, done that, and have seen the ways that daily movement has changed their clients’ lives for the better.
How To Practice Gratitude And Patience
”Besides the traditional teachings of exercise and physical goals, such as discipline, persistence, anatomy, etc., exercising goes deep into the mind, whether you realize it or not," Mimi Ko, a fitness and wellness coach and yoga instructor at Spa Pechanga in California, tells Elite Daily over email. "Gratitude and patience, in particular, are two very overlooked teachings I talk about with my clients."
According to Ko, gratitude and patience are, in a sense, even more powerful than the physical outcomes of exercise, because they alter your mindset. "Instead of [just] the body transforming, the mind and the heart also follow," she explains. "The physical is just an entry point for internal change.”
How To Be More Resilient And Cope With Stress
Exercise may put literal, physical stress on your body in the moment, but according to wellness expert Jason Martuscello, sweating it out on the reg can actually help you mentally prepare for whatever stressful situations life may throw at you.
What’s more, you really don’t have to be a total gym rat to reap these benefits: According to a recent study published the scientific journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, working out just three times a week is linked to reduced stress.
How To Be More Confident
According to Cortney Logan, co-founder bRUNch Running, while exercise can certainly push you, motivate you, and make you physically stronger, the mental benefits, such as increased confidence, often outweigh the physical ones.
"[Working out] gives you that ‘I can attitude,’ reduces stress, and might even help you discover that ‘inner athlete’ talent that you never knew you had," Logan explains. "By applying the traits gained from exercise, one can lose self-doubt and live a much happier life."
How To Be Happier Overall
Yes, the endorphins coursing through your body during a good workout can certainly help you feel good, but according to Liz Hilliard, owner of Hilliard Studio Method, there’s more to it than that. She tells Elite Daily that "exercise forces us to search deep within ourselves for strength and motivation," and at her own studio, she adds, through challenging workouts and a strong sense of community, people help one another find their own inner power and strength.
"Sometimes it is hiding deep down inside someone, or has been lost, but we help them pull it out," Hilliard explains.
How To Boost Your Productivity
Exercise can also lead to greater productivity at work and at home, says Hilliard. By taking time to focus on yourself during a fitness class or a solo workout, she explains, you open up your mind to greater focus in other areas of life.
"Exercise helps you tackle the day’s tasks and projects, with determination and confidence," she tells Elite Daily.
How To Take Care Of Yourself
"Medical research shows that just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, daily, can change your body, improve your health, and lift your spirits," Hilliard tells me. "Through exercise, we learn to take care of our bodies, take time for ourselves, to push ourselves just a little bit further with each movement and each extra second in that plank hold."
By pushing yourself to that edge, says Hilliard, you become stronger in body, mind, and spirit.
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