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Don't begin your health and fitness journey because you want to like yourself more. Begin the journey because you like yourself enough​​​​​​​.

Your emotional well-being is the most important fitness factor. We get healthy and fit because we want to be a better us.  Will confidence increase when you drop a size or two? Of course it will, because your hard work will show. You are pretty awesome.  Keep being awesome.

That being said, the emotional benefits of exercise are pretty astounding.  In an excerpt from “The Exercise Effect”, published by the American Psychological Association, Kirsten Weir discusses: If you've ever gone for a run after a stressful day, chances are you felt better afterward. "The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong," Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University says. "Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect."

 "Don't begin your health and fitness journey because you want to like yourself more. Begin the journey because you like yourself enough."

But the effects of physical activity extend beyond the short-term. Research shows that exercise can also help alleviate long-term depression.

Some of the evidence for that comes from broad, population-based correlation studies. "There's good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program," says James Blumenthal, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Duke University.

Research has also looked at the ability of exercise to treat, or even prevent, anxiety associated with the “fight or flight” mechanism.  When we are stressed or anxious, our nervous systems jump into action, setting off a cascade of reactions such as sweating, dizziness, and a racing heart. People with heightened sensitivity to anxiety respond to those sensations with fear" says Jasper Smits, PhD, Co-Director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and co-author, with Otto, of the 2011 book "Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-being."

Smits and Otto reasoned that regular workouts might help people prone to anxiety become less likely to panic when they experience those fight-or-flight sensations. After all, the body produces many of the same physical reactions — heavy perspiration, increased heart rate — in response to exercise. They tested their theory among 60 volunteers with heightened sensitivity to anxiety. Subjects who participated in a two-week exercise program showed significant improvements in anxiety sensitivity compared with a control group.

There are numerous aspects of a healthy, active lifestyle that will enhance mood, boost confidence and make you feel... well... better, but you are just improving an already great you.