Fitness is generally regarded in a positive light. You look and feel better, you are more likely to live longer, avoid pain, and deal with stress better. However, fitness is often more well-regarded for its physical benefits and less for its mental and emotional advantages.
The Burden of Body Shaming
Body shaming involves humiliating, mocking, shunning, or generally bullying someone because they do not fit the typical description of what a human being should look like. In many instances, this involves weight issues, such as being heavy or being thin.
Depending on what study you’re reading, the prevalence of body shaming can range from 25 to 35 percent, or even up to 44.9 percent. The influence of the Internet, particularly social media, has made the concept of body shaming ordinary. Body shaming affects every victim’s mental health in some way, so it has been found to be a primary contributing factor in depression.
Can Fitness Help?
With body shaming as a stressor, many people have found the answer in fitness. However, although the Internet has made fitness look easy and attainable in the form of ripped abs and endless cardio, different people have different experiences when it comes to getting and staying fit.
While a perfectly sculpted body is not possible for everyone, fitness can still help in preventing the negative mental and emotional effects of body shaming, as exercise has been linked to mental wellness and emotional strength and stability in many studies.
How Does Exercise Make You Happy?
First of all, when you exercise regularly, your body becomes accustomed to movement. And When it’s easier to move, it’s easier to do more things, which can make you feel better about yourself. Here are some of the most important benefits of staying fit with exercise and diet.
- It Uplifts Your Mood. Exercising releases “happy hormones.” These include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, among others. Regular cardiovascular exercises make you feel better more often, improving your mood and getting you ready to face the day.
- It Helps You Deal With Stress. Stress is necessary for you to respond to different things. For example, stress helps you meet deadlines. However, high stress levels for prolonged periods of time can lead to many bad things, including depression and even physiological problems, such as heart ailments. Exercise allows you to cope with stress faster and easier. It only takes a few minutes of exercise a day to start feeling less-stressed. Stressed at work? Take five minutes of low-intensity exercise and you’ll feel a lot more prepared to handle it.
- It Improves Your Mental Health. When you set fitness goals and strive to meet them, it’s not just your body that benefits from your activities. Your mental toughness improves, as well. The tougher you are mentally, the stronger you’ll be to handle stressors. You may also be able to train your brain to think faster, so you become capable of responding more quickly when you need to.
- It Helps You Battle the Common Sources of Depression. This is where exercise helps you deal with body shaming and other things that lead to depression, anxiety, and anger. When you know you’re doing your best to better yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, it’s harder for stressors to bring you down. Even if you have some health problems, if they can be improved with exercise, just the thought of doing something good for yourself can help you cope faster.
- It Boosts Your Immune System. Even if you don’t have any ailments right now, if you continue to live life without exercise, your immune system may take a hit in the future. Exercise helps remove bacteria from your lungs. It also helps the lymphatic system drain body waste much more efficiently, possibly getting rid of toxins and carcinogens. Your blood produces more antibodies and white blood cells, which help detect and attack illnesses. Exercise also slows down the production of hormones that are typically connected with stress.
- It Gives You More Energy. Ever tried running for the first time, or running after a long hiatus from exercise? It doesn’t take a long time before you’re gasping for breath and feeling dizzy. If you have bad habits, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, it’s even more difficult to get your wind. However, if you run regularly, your body learns to adapt. It begins to store more energy, which helps you run faster and longer. Regular exercise is necessary if you love those bursts of speed and never-ending energy to do the things you want to do every day.
How Can You Get Started With Exercise?
Many people overthink this. They watch gurus on YouTube or read about what their favorite celebrities and athletes do. If you spend too much time doing that, you’ll find yourself coming up with excuses and you’ll never get started. The trick is no trick at all: just get started now. The sooner you start exercising, the sooner it will become easier. Here are some simple tips.
- Set Simple Goals. Don’t overdo it, or you might quit after the first few sessions. Your goals should be realistic. Train your body to deal with exercise before forcing yourself to achieve more. You’ll get there eventually.
- Train With a Friend. This really depends on you, but most people find it more satisfying and less stressful or tiring if they’re sharing the activity with a friend or a loved one. Running with a friend, for example, lets you focus less on the difficulty and more on the camaraderie and fun.
- Wear Something Comfortable and Safe. Wearing the right outfit lets you move freely. It keeps you comfortable while exercising. It also helps keep you away from injuries or skin irritation. You don’t want to lose your interest in exercising just because of blisters or skin abrasions.
- Focus. Just taking selfies and posting them on social media will not help you reach your goals. Use your phone to help you count the calories you’re consuming and the ones you’re burning. Sign up on a fitness app. Get a bathroom scale. And if you’re going to take selfies, let them be before and after photos that you can use as another motivation to exercise and make yourself healthier.
There’s no big secret to using fitness to improve yourself and stay away from depression. All you really have to do is get up and start exercising.