I really need to get into better shape.”

I cannot begin to count the number of times this thought has crossed my mind. Whether it’s because I’m out of breath walking up a lofty flight of stairs, or I’m having trouble keeping up with a friend during a morning jog, this recurring thought is more frequent than I’d like to admit. And this thought, whether I like it or not, is extremely damaging and dangerous.

Working out should be fun. It shouldn’t be a chore, or something that is forced. However, when I begin working out because I need to get into shape, it becomes a different story. Forcing yourself to run for a hour on the treadmill for the sole purpose of “being in shape” or “being skinny” is not the most healthy mindset. Though exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself, the benefits you reap are far greater when you have a healthy mindset.

A strong mentality behind the way we approach our physical health is so vital. In order to be in good shape physically, we must be in good shape mentally.

When fitness comes from a place of confidence, strength, and love for ourselves, we can get so much accomplished in our 20 minutes of cardio everyday.

Here are 4 benefits unrelated to your toned arms to being physically active everyday:

1. It’s a Stress Reliever

Getting outside for a jog can be great for stress reduction. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, a little cardio could be the answer.

2. You’ll Boost Your Brainpower

Various studies on mice and men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning. Say hello to a smarter you ;)

3. You’ll Gain Self Confidence

Need a little self love? Physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Give yourself the attention and care that you need and get yourself to the gym!

4. Your Maximize Your Productivity

Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session during the work day, some experts believe that midday is the ideal time for a workout due to the body’s circadian rhythms.

We all love to feel in shape, but working out does more than that for us. By being physically active, we relieve stress, boost brain power, improve self confidence, and increase our productivity.

Get moving!

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self-care, intersectionality, diversity, community
Author: Kelsey Bishop

Kelsey is a junior at Boston College studying Finance and Entrepreneurship. She spends her time as a team member of Dorm Room Fund, Campus Insights, and BC Women in Business.