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Physical Activities That Boost Self-Esteem

7 Exercises that Can Improve Your Self-Esteem

A mountain of research has linked exercise to increased self-esteem. Read on to learn which activities can help boost your mental well-being, while helping to improve your physical health.

Running: According to a study out of Boston College, female runners tend to have significantly higher levels of self-esteem compared to women who do not run. The same study also found that runners have a more empowered sense of self, while experiencing much higher levels of overall happiness. Interestingly, runners maintain these advantages over both non-athletic women and athletic women who participate in activities that do not involve running.

Walking: If you're not a big fan of running, take heart. Research also indicates that you may be able to boost your self-esteem by taking regular walks . To get optimal benefits, however, studies suggest it's best to walk in natural environments. In fact, outdoor walks have been shown to significantly improve self-esteem and well-being, compared to indoor walks. If you have been struggling to feel good about yourself or your life, consider taking regular walks in the park or around your neighborhood.

Resistance training: Studies have linked strength training to a myriad of health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, enhanced body composition, lower blood pressure, healthier insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of mortality. Researchers have also shown that weight lifting and other types of strength training can ease anxiety, improve sleep, boost cognitive function, reduce depression and increase self-esteem.

Gardening: According to a study appearing in the Journal of Public Health, gardening can have a positive impact on your mental well-being . After surveying 270 gardeners and non-gardeners, researchers found that the act of gardening appears to calm anger, reduce depression and boost self-esteem. What's more, you only have to spend 30 minutes a week in your garden to gain these benefits. Even if you don't have much of a green thumb, you can still start a small garden and fill it with hearty, easy-to-grow plants, such as marigolds, sunflowers, pansies, zinnia, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots or radishes.

Mindfulness meditation: You may not regard meditation as an activity; however, it has been shown to provide many of the same benefits as exercise . What's more, researchers have shown that mindful meditation can improve self-esteem while reducing anxiety related to negative self-image. If you aren't sure how to practice mindful meditation, simply spend ten to 15 minutes focusing on your breathing and senses. Try your best to stay in the moment without letting your mind ruminate about deadlines, problems or responsibilities.

Skiing: In case you needed another reason to hit the slopes, researchers have linked skiing and snowboarding to improved mental well-being. According to at least one study, these activities can elevate self-esteem and strengthen social bonds. If you're not much of a skier, researchers say you can gain the same benefits by participating in sports that allow you to get active while engaging with other people.

Swimming: A great exercise for people who have joint pain or physical limitations, swimming provides a number of health benefits in a low-impact setting. Research has also shown that swimming provides mood-elevating benefits that can improve the way you feel about yourself and life in general. You can even boost the positive effects by swimming with friends or by joining a water aerobics class that allows you to interact with other people.

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