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How Does Exercise Affect Your Self-Esteem?

Last Updated: Jun 05, 2015 | By Benna Crawford
A woman carrying hand weights on a nature trail. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

It's probably safe to surmise that sitting in front of a screen all day at work and in front of the TV all night isn't doing much for your physical health or self-image. A sedentary lifestyle, the default for many office workers, students and retired people, does little to raise your fitness level, your energy, your self-confidence or your general sense of well-being. But looking good, feeling strong and having a positive attitude, the attributes of self-esteem, are all benefits of a regular exercise regime.

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Better Body

Society is obsessed with body image and, for many people, how they look has a direct bearing on self-esteem. Idea Health

& Fitness Association notes that your personal body image -- toned, balanced weight, pleasing proportions, posture, vitality and other factors -- is as important as your strength, competence at sports and other measures of physical fitness. Regular exercise, with an emphasis on aerobic exercise, can have a positive effect on self-esteem -- especially for those who suffer from low self-esteem -- as fitness and appearance improve. There is no proven formula for how much or how often to exercise to affect self-esteem so Idea Fit recommends following the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines: 20 to 60 minutes of dynamic activity that challenges major muscle groups, 3 to 5 days a week; 8 to 10 resistance exercises for strength-building practiced 2 to 3 times a week; and a stretch session for flexibility at least twice a week but, ideally daily.

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