Boosting Mental Health & Positivity with Exercise
It’s no secret that regular exercise contributes to better mental health and emotional well-being. And in turn, positivity and optimism can also often help bolster benefits of a full body workout that includes strength training, aerobic exercise – also known as cardio, and stretching.
What is positivity?
Positivity is the practice of being positive or optimistic in attitude and outlook. It’s seeing the glass not as half empty, but as half full. Not only does positivity make you a more pleasant and likeable person, it has numerous benefits for your mental and physical health. When we feel good about ourselves, we are more likely to be optimistic and positive in general.1 And because regular exercise makes us feel good mentally and physically, women who work out are often more positive than women who don’t. 5
The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health
We all know a regular full body workout, like the Curves Circuit or MyCurves On Demand, is good for our physical health. A workout that combines women’s strength training, cardio, and stretching helps reduce the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. It strengthens your bones and muscles and helps you lose weight. As a bonus, regular exercise boosts brain health and helps prevent memory loss, depression, and anxiety.1
Here are some more specific ways exercise impacts mental and emotional wellbeing:
Both strength training and aerobic workouts help us deal with emotional stress. To dive more deeply into the relationship between a regular total body workout like the Curves Circuit and lower levels of stress, exercise appears to give our bodies a practice run at the stress response. When we are under emotional stress, our heart rate increases, we start sweating, and we get a rush of adrenaline. Our bodily systems all talk to each other to get us through the challenge at hand. Similar things happen when we hit the Curves Circuit or take a Curves class. In short, a tough workout prepares us for a tough work project or other life stress. 2
A regular total body workout like the Curves Circuit helps you build confidence and self-esteem. When you engage in a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise, you are completing a full body workout. Do that workout regularly and add to it a healthy eating plan, and you’re bound to see results. You may lose pounds, drop a clothing size or two, and/or notice an increase in your strength and muscle tone. When you look in the mirror, you will feel proud of what you see. All these results do wonders for your self-esteem.
Exercise makes you feel good, but not high. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that help dull muscle pain. Research has shown that exercise and endorphins are indeed linked. However, the long-held belief that your body releases enough endorphins to produce a “runner’s high,” or euphoric feeling during a workout, have come into question over the past few years. They have found that endorphins don’t cross from your blood into your brain. The “high” you experience when you finish an aerobic workout may instead be due to chemicals called endocannabinoids, which help lower anxiety and make you feel calm. 3
Strength training for women builds strength in all areas of life. When you start a full body workout like the Curves Circuit that involves resistance training, you will feel yourself getting stronger over time. With each 30-minute session, you will build your balance and muscular strength. As you gain strength and balance, you will notice everyday tasks getting easier, such as carrying heavy grocery bags, climbing a ladder to dust a light fixture or fan, or piggybacking your kids or grandkids. When you see these changes and feel your body moving in a positive direction, it does wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.
You will feel empowered with a sense of accomplishment. One of the best ways to measure the success of your full body workouts is to track your progress toward reaching goals. These goals can be short term, like striving to complete the 30-minute circuit or a Curves class. Goals can also be long term, such as I want to drop a bathing suit size before my trip to the Caribbean. The best goals are S.M.A.R.T.—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. A goal of losing 80 pounds in three months is too lofty. It’s fine to have an ultimate destination in your journey, but try to set realistic mini-goals along the way. For example, I want to lose three pounds the first week, cut out processed meats the second, get to Curves four times the third, and take three Curves classes the fourth.
Use your Curves workouts to clear your head. When you are going through the Curves Circuit or sweating in a Curves class, you have a clear objective for the duration the workout, and as you focus on your body, you push out intrusive worries and thoughts. Exercise helps you become more mindful and present in the moment—a skill you can take with you after you leave Curves.
Exercise and happiness are linked. Research shows regular physical activity can be as effective as medications at tackling depression. And in a 2020 study that looked at more than 2,000 people of all ages, researchers found regular physical activity was linked to better life satisfaction and happiness in young, middle aged, and older adults. 4
Whether it’s strength training for women, the Curves Circuit, or a balance or flexibility class, the benefits of exercise on mental health are as important as the physical effects. And because you work out next to friendly, supportive women, Curves can become an important part of your social network, too. If you’re not already a member, check out the Curves women’s gym near you! For more information about Curves, visit https://www.curves.com/about/why-curves.
- Benefits of Physical Activity | Physical Activity | CDC
- Working out boosts brain health (apa.org)
- The Truth Behind ‘Runner’s High’ and Other Mental Benefits of Running | Johns Hopkins Medicine
- The Relationships between Physical Activity and Life Satisfaction and Happiness among Young, Middle-Aged, and Older Adults – PMC (nih.gov)