While lifting weights, hitting the bike trail, or crushing HIIT exercises helps you look good on the outside, there’s plenty of evidence that exercise strengthens you on the inside, too. Exercise has been proven to give your mental health a lift.

We all know the satisfaction of smashing a tough workout or that revitalizing post-gym mood boost. Turns out, exercise releases an arsenal of feel-good chemicals that work to improve overall brain function and emotional health—from decreasing stress at the end of your workout to building up healthy self-esteem over time. There’s even evidence that physical activity can curb your risk of depression long-term. 

No matter your workout style, there’s potential for it to help get your mental fitness in shape. (As if you needed any more reasons to work out.)

But how exactly does working out shore up your mental health? Below are seven ways exercise boosts your mind and soul as well as your body.

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