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A lack of exercise is the cause of several chronic illnesses, reports the National Library of Medicine, including some that are top causes of death in the Black community such as Type 2 Diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Even though exercise can prolong one’s life, Americans aren’t doing it nearly enough. In fact, a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Gympass found that nearly half of respondents say they’re too busy to work out. Ironically, nearly 80 percent also said that they do feel happier when they stick to an exercise routine.

All of this is to say that there’s a very good reason we celebrate National Fitness Day – a day dedicated to focusing on physical and mental health. But it’s no secret that a lot of messaging surrounding fitness can have to do with body image. And in a society that’s trying to move away from body image fixation, exercise needs a bit of a re-branding. That’s why MADAMENOIRE is listing several benefits of exercise that have nothing to do with the way you look.


Add Structure To Your Day

Talking Before Yoga Class

Source: FatCamera / Getty

If you struggle to develop a daily routine, exercise can help with that. Knowing that you go to the gym or go for your run at a set time each day encourages you to do more planning, identifying pockets of time around your fitness routine to get other tasks done. Professors at Rutgers and Ohio State University took a look at the habits of healthy people and found that those who have a routine schedule are happier. So because working out forces a routine onto your day, you could feel happier for it.


Gain Self-Discipline

Woman exercising on a fitness ball at home

Source: Jackyenjoyphotography / Getty

Exercise is a simple way to practice a habit associated with success: doing something you don’t feel like doing. This is otherwise known as self-discipline. Repeatedly doing something that brings you closer to your goals, even when you don’t feel like it, strengthens your brain and puts you in that “no excuses” mindset. In fact, research from the National Library of Medicine found that people experience overall increased feelings of control, competency and self-esteem after exercise. If you can run those five miles when you don’t feel like it, there’s no limits to what else you can do.



High angle shot of two young women chatting during a yoga class

Source: Marco VDM / Getty

Depending on the type of exercise you do, working out can be social. You can join a fitness class and become friends with the other attendees, grabbing coffee and hanging out after. Or, you can simply join a gym and get to know the other members and the staff. This can be especially useful for those who work from home and don’t get much interaction from their profession because socializing is important for mental health.


Patronize A Small Business

Happy female boxer holding punching bag at health club

Source: The Good Brigade / Getty

You can use your workout as a way to patronize a small business or an entrepreneur. Buy a membership to a Black-owned gym or boxing studio in your town (we named some we love here). Know a personal trainer who is building their client roster and could use a little help? Hire them for some sessions. Get your workout equipment or wardrobe from a small business. If spending your dollars on local businesses is important to you, the fitness industry is full of them.


Get A Cute Workout Wardrobe

Woman doing sit-ups with trainer in gym

Source: JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty

Nobody can blame you for loving the chance to do a little shopping. Maybe for you, if the wardrobe is cute, you’ll do the damn thing. A great office wardrobe gets you pumped for a new job. A great workout wardrobe could get you excited about going to the gym. Plus, some workout clothes today are so cute that you’ll just want to wear them while running errands around town. (We listed Black-owned fitness wardrobe brands we love here).


Feel Happier

Woman Working Out on a Treadmill

Source: FatCamera / Getty

Research from The National Library of Medicine shows that even short bouts of exercise increase levels of serotonin and endorphins in the brain, helping you feel happier. Forget feeling happier because your dress size drops or the number on the scale goes down. You don’t even need to wait for those results to feel uplifted. The simple act of exercise makes you feel happier, right away. It’s just science.

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