How can physical activity increase self esteem?

There is a strong connection between social physical activity and self esteem. Self-esteem is not just high self-regard, but a natural high that we feel when included in groups. It is fundamental to psychological wellbeing and a key indicator of emotional stability.  High self-esteem is associated with a number of positive characteristics such as independence, leadership, adaptability and resilience to stress and health-related behaviours. Conversely, low self-esteem is associated with poor mental health.

  • Ensure exercisers are made aware of improvements in performance – increased confidence in ability to complete an activity increases perceived ability and self worth.
  • Short term achievable goals (physical, mental and social goals) – self managed or in collaboration with a health/exercise professional are more likely to be effective than goals that are set by a health/exercise professional without discussion. (See our posts on extrinsic and intrinsic goals)
  • Positive forms of instruction, includes sharing knowledge, and positive encouragement, in a non-judgemental way, and continuing positive encouragement when things are not going so well for the exerciser!
  • Providing exercisers with choice and control. This gives those taking part a sense of autonomy, a key aspect of improving confidence.
  • Encouraging exercisers to focus on improving their own skills and performance, rather than on comparison with others, is associated with greater increases in competence. Competition and evaluation in comparison to other’s is discouraging for those with the lowest ability and self-esteem.
  • Encourage social interaction – where physical activity is undertaken as part of a group or brings the exerciser into contact with other people, there is an opportunity for individuals to increase their social networks and make friends. There is extensive research that shows that good social relationships and networks promote, and are a major factor for, wellbeing and mental health.

Interestingly, no particular type of exercise is more beneficial for self-esteem than another

Greater self-esteem also correlates with higher levels of relationship satisfaction, job satisfaction, occupational status, salary and physical health later in life (investigations showed no reciprocal relationship).

Techniques for improving self esteem through social physical activity are effective for all socioeconomic groups, age groups, abilities and are appropriate for the clients lifespan!

For a research publication on Self Esteem and Physical Activity … 🤸🏾