How can exercise help boost your self-esteem?

Self-esteem; defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “belief and confidence in your own ability and value”, it’s something that a lot of us struggle with at times. You might be more than directly familiar with all manner of negative self-talk; that you aren’t good enough at something, or that there’s no way you could possibly compare to ‘that’ or ‘this’ person you’ve always admired. 

And unquestionably, in order to improve your own self-esteem, it is crucial to challenge that self-talk and the assumptions behind it. But is it right to think the task of bolstering your self-esteem is solely  about what’s going on inside your brain? 

It has long been noted, after all, that the mind and the body are deeply interconnected – which brings us nicely onto the subject of the potential role of exercise. And it’s not just our team here at Hybryd that reckons getting moving could do a huge amount of good for your self-esteem; just ask science journalist Caroline Williams, author of the book Move!: The New Science of Body and Mind

“My mind works best when my body is moving” 

Any one of us who has ever found ourselves puzzled by a problem and gone for a brisk walk, only to come back and suddenly seem to hit upon inspiration, can probably relate to what Williams has to say about how physical bodily actions can strongly impact on the mind. 

She recently said to Stylist: “For a lot of my career, I was looking at the brain – how and why we think the way we do, how and why we feel the way we do, and what we can do to make changes to that. It was brain, brain, brain and that was the end of the story.” 

But Williams added that it then occurred to her that “my mind works best when my body is moving, and I started asking why. Why do I feel so much more focused, confident and capable when I’ve been moving my body? Is there any science that explains that and can we use that in some way? And it turns out, there’s absolutely loads of research that explains it.” 

One example of such research touching on this mind-body connection – as Williams has pointed to – is a 2018 paper that found both self-esteem and social behaviour tended to be lower among people who spend a greater amount of time sitting. 

So, what is the mechanism that leads to exercise enhancing self-esteem? 

This, of course, is a deeper subject to explore, and it’s fascinating what science has already indicated to us about how the connection between exercise and self-esteem works. 

Williams has said that improvements in physical strength, for example, are linked to improvements in what mental health professionals call global self-efficacy, which – in the author’s words – is a “measure of what you can handle in the world and how able we feel to cope with whatever life throws at us. 

“There’s this idea that our bodily sensations can inform our brain about how we are on a subconscious level in the background to our lives. Improving your strength just changes those messages – it’s almost like changing the background music.” 

Is now the time to upgrade your stock of performance apparel? 

There you have it, then – the notion of the body inspiring the mind, including how you perceive yourself, is very much science-backed. 

Naturally, you would expect a brand like ourselves here at Hybryd to advocate that you get moving, so it’s great to see that the world of science supports it, too. 

And if you do happen to need to replenish your wardrobe and gym bag with performance apparel that will flatter your physique as well as it stands up to the pressures of a workout, there’s no need to look further than our store – particularly given the free UK delivery we are also proud to offer.