Exercise can do a lot of things. It has been proven to make you healthier, avoid certain diseases, make you happier, and even make you smarter. But with so much attention being given to gratitude lately, can exercise even make you feel more grateful? With the gratitude holiday, Thanksgiving, just around the corner, maybe it’s time to find out.
Research shows that the side effects of exercise can, in fact, contribute to gratitude that you feel in nearly every other area of your life. We know that exercise lowers levels of anxiety and depression, which in turn allows you to stay focused and optimistic throughout your day. Exercise also increases self-esteem and allows you to focus on the positive aspects of your body. No body is perfect, but when you’re fit and healthy, you learn to appreciate everything your body can do, instead of only how it looks. Feeling good about yourself and recognizing the effect of exercise on your body also helps you stick to a consistent fitness routine, even when progress may seem slow.
It’s not just intense cardio and strength training workouts that let you leave FitClub with that grateful feeling. Meditation and yoga are both known to make us feel good by stimulating the brain’s prefrontal cortex that controls happiness and supports healthy immune systems. If you’re curious, FitClub’s meditation and yoga classes are perfect for beginners or experts and can challenge you to think about fitness as a whole-body routine.
How to make your next workout into a gratitude session:
You don’t have to be an expert in gratitude to start reaping the benefits. Try these tips on your next trip to FitClub:
- Choose an exercise you love and stay mindful. If you love to run, hop on the treadmill and stay mindful in the activity. If your mind starts to wander and worry about the bills you have to pay or an argument you had last night, try focusing in on what your muscles are doing while you run. Can you feel the muscles in your leg propelling each step? Can you feel your healthy lungs expand when you take a deep breath? Staying focused on the positive aspects of your workout can make you feel immediate gratitude for a strong, healthy body.
- Write it down. To reinforce the good feeling you get from a great workout, make a note in your journal, your phone, or a calendar. Note how you felt before your workout and how that mood has changed since you finished. The simple act of writing down moments we are grateful for reinforces the gratitude and helps us remember how to get that feeling back in the future.