Exercise and Happiness

As If You Needed One More Good Reason To Exercise...

Here’s another: New research suggests breaking a sweat can boost your self esteem

by Kiley Bense

You probably know that exercise can boost happiness and energy (Thanks, Elle Woods). But here’s more good news: Last week Gallup released a poll that shows a link between frequent exercise and feeling good about your appearance.

The more often people got their hearts racing, the more likely they were to report positive feelings about their looks. Seventy percent of Americans who exercised every day in the past week said they “strongly agree” with the statement “You always feel good about your physical appearance,” compared with 61 percent of those who exercised for three days and 49 percent of those who didn’t exercise at all.

Unfortunately, only 14 percent of Americans fall into the first category, with 29 percent reporting that they hadn’t exercised for at least 30 minutes any day in the past week.

There are a myriad of potential reasons for the correlation between physical self-esteem and working out. The obvious one is that physical activity leads to a healthier body and a healthy weight. Gallup also measured the connection between Americans’ weight and their feelings about their appearance: Those who reported a normal weight were most likely to feel positively about their looks.

Exercise affects mood, too. Besides releasing those famous endorphins (which have painkilling effects and may ease depression), it has also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

The chart below shows how strong positive feelings about appearance increase with each additional day per week a person exercises, based on the Gallup data.