Two Asian women exercising together on their individual yoga mat

The importance of physical fitness goes beyond just improving your health, reducing the risk of injury, and increasing life expectancy. It can also affect how you feel about yourself and view your body! In a study conducted at the Centre for Adolescent Health in India, physical activity, body image, self-esteem, and eating attitudes are all related to each other and mediated by similar psychological traits.

A similar study by a group at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain concludes that physical activity could help individuals achieve a positive self-concept. It promotes psychological well-being in young men and women through the improvement of physical perceptions and body satisfaction.

With   to encourage more people to celebrate and , we asked different women to share their thoughts on the importance of physical fitness and its correlation with .

Ina on Focusing More on How She Feels vs. How She Looks

Ina, a community manager of an international coworking space, shares that working out generally makes her feel good about herself. “I do it for obvious reasons—to stay healthy and strong. And it helps with stress management as well!” Focusing on how she feels about herself more than how she looks allows her to be thankful for a body that lets her do things she wants to do.

For her, the importance of physical fitness is all about encouraging a better perception of yourself. "If we want to help each other out and promote a more positive body image, we can start by trying not to judge people for their choices—like the way they dress and how they carry themselves.” 

Trixi on Being Thankful for the Little and Big Things Her Body Can Do

For Trixi, a marketing communications and PR professional, the importance of physical fitness comes naturally.

“One of my favorite books is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, and there was a quote there, ‘But everyone’s an athlete. If you have a body, you’re an athlete.’ That quote stuck with me ever since because it reminded me that we are all capable of taking charge of our bodies if we have the right mindset,” she explains.

Trixi accompanies her workouts with an extra dose of . “During a class, an instructor mentioned during the cooldown, ‘Thank your body for getting up and moving today,’" she says. "That made me realize how often we take for granted our bodies. We tend to criticize it for how it looks rather than what it can do for us. From then on, it changed my perspective and reminded me to love my body more and appreciate the little and big things it can do!”

She expresses her gratitude for her body by making sure to pamper it and listen to its needs. "If I need rest, I rest. If I am weak and need to replenish my energy, I eat healthy food and hydrate. If my body wants to be challenged, I push myself! By listening to your body and appreciating what it can do, you end up loving your body more and more each day,” she adds.

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Jakki on Not Depriving Herself of Junk Food

Jakki, a college student, opens up about her frustrations with people saying she’s too skinny. For her, the importance of physical fitness is about keeping her stronger physically and mentally.

"On top of that, preparing my own meals—healthy or not—helps me love my body even more!" she says. "Some people like to cut off junk food from their diets, but I believe you don’t need to cut off everything. Everything in moderation! Just listen to yourself and what your body needs.”

“Also—changes don’t happen overnight—be it your mindset or body progress. Don’t pressure yourself too much and give yourself a break sometimes.”

Janica on Turning Something Negative into Positive

Janica happens to be one of the first female wrestlers in the country. Since the quarantine started, performing in local shows was put on hold.

“I developed this mindset of turning something negative into one that's positive. The fact that the world slowed down when the pandemic hit made me realize I have more time now since we’re all stuck in our homes," Janica shares. "I stick to my morning routine for a sense of productivity at the earliest time possible. This helps set my day's mood."

To emphasize the importance of physical fitness, she works on strengthening her body and eating healthy (except for the occasional rewarding dessert). Her other indulgence? Shopping!

"I also like to do online shopping specifically for workout clothes that I think look great," she exclaims, adding that pretty workout gear motivates her to crush a workout!

To motivate herself, Janica follows fitness influencers who share her body type. Her solitary tip for women aiming to empower themselves is to filter their lives.

"I can't stress enough how helpful it is to create a mindful environment for ourselves. We become a lot like the things we allow into our lives, so it's very important to have full control over what we feed our minds and souls. Declutter your social media feeds and follow only those that inspire you and keep your mind healthy," she advises.

Kat on Honoring Her Body Type

Kat is the Chief Content Officer of and an advocate of . Her way of expressing the importance of physical fitness is to have a strong body that allows her to do things without getting exhausted easily. Staying active also helps her restart and refocus and gives her mood an uplift.

Her favorite workout is , which she does every day for an hour. She believes that it helps her become more aware of what her body can do. It also helps calm her mind.

"I also honor my body type and give it more precedence than the latest fashion trend. Even if an outfit is cute, if it's uncomfortable or if it doesn't suit my body type, I'm not going to get it for myself," she shares.

Part of her daily practice is smiling at herself whenever she looks in the mirror. “For me, this is like an act of self-affirmation. I'm telling myself that I like what I see. I've also accepted that my body right now is naturally different from my body when I was in my 20s. My body changes and will continue to change, and there's nothing wrong with that.”

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Giana on What Her Body is Capable of

Junior architect Giana realized the importance of physical fitness when the pandemic hit. Since the quarantine, she makes it a habit to stretch her body and work out. Exercise helps ready her for the day ahead and helps prevent potential back pain from .

"I also take my time in the morning to reaffirm myself on my current situation and what I have planned," Gianna adds. "Every time I look in the mirror is a chance to remind myself of what my body is capable of and has done for me so far, which I'll always be grateful for. It motivates me to care for myself even more.”

Growing up feeling like she was on the "thicker" side of the family, Gianna always tried to slim her body down. Understanding the importance of physical fitness, however, helped not just strengthen her body but also her mind and she found the confidence to embrace her physique.

Bloss on Meditating and Treating Her Body with Kindness

Bloss, the founder of a Montessori school and a personal development coach, has long understood the importance of physical fitness. She even loves posting her workouts in her Instagram stories. “Working out for me is my form of . Other than staying active and healthy, I also consider it as a time for me to celebrate what my body is capable of doing.”

Aside from working out regularly, drinking lots of water, and avoiding bad eating habits, Bloss keeps track of her progress in a journal to help her become more mindful. “I also started to find time to meditate to give my body the rest and relaxation it deserves, especially after long, busy days at home!”

To other women, Bloss advises, “Embrace your uniqueness and simply celebrate being YOU. Commit to a lifestyle that makes you feel good, and practice treating your body with kindness and love each day.”

Treating your body with kindness and love each day should include pampering your skin. Give it the nourishment it deserves by applying Vaseline Intensive Care Deep Restore Body Lotion every night to keep your skin soft, healthy, and moisturized. 

Mae on Loving and Appreciating Her Body Now That She’s a Mother

Mae is a writer. For her, the importance of physical fitness isn't so much about losing weight but more about keeping her body healthy and her blood sugar levels low. “Working from home ties me down to my desk, so I make it a point to be as active as I possibly can. I do . Usually, I dance to six or seven songs twice or thrice a week. On weekends, if I have the time, I go biking with my daughter.”

She confesses that she misses her pre-motherhood body, but the trade-off is so much better. " Having my daughter has been the best gift this body has ever given me. So, I smile and say I wouldn't want to have it any other way,” she adds.

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Chi on Writing Affirmations on Her Journal

Chi is a certified hot and vinyasa yoga instructor as well as a hot pilates instructor. She posts a lot of positive and self-love messages on her Instagram, _positivichi. Chi initially started working out simply to lose weight as her end goal. But through time, she realized that there’s more to working out than just the physical benefits.

“I became more active and was slowly introduced to more activities such as yoga, boxing, , and CrossFit. This was when I started to feel positive changes emotionally and mentally. I’m always motivated to push myself a little bit more every day. Being diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) didn’t stop me from achieving my goals. I also got to meet many people who became good friends along the way, and I learned new skills in the process. Nowadays, working out for me is already part of my lifestyle.”

Aside from putting in at least 30 minutes of movement every day, eating well, staying hydrated, and getting lots of rest contributes to Chi’s overall well-being. “I also picked up the habit of writing affirmations on my journal to help me love my body more.”

"In a society where there is a specific standard of beauty and ‘body image,’ a lot of women find it challenging to have a positive body image for themselves (at times, myself included), and that’s the reality I personally want to change. I would love to inspire more people to see themselves as beautiful and worthy. It’s okay to aspire and have a specific goal in mind but remember that it’s not everything. What’s more important is that you enjoy the journey. Progress and not perfection. Nobody will love yourself more than you.”

Pauline on Battling Anorexia

Animator, Pauline, says that she used to work out for the sake of having the ‘ideal body.’ “I was diagnosed with anorexia NOS. I would go on caloric deficits of 0-800 calories and would still exercise to lose more weight. That lifestyle resulted in a cycle of starving and binge-eating."

She adds: "My weight would fluctuate, and I’d bloat all the time. It took a toll on my health. Eventually, I learned to see working out as a way to keep myself physically and mentally healthy. I focus on the endorphins I get and on strengthening my body so that I can battle any virus or illness.”

“Working under a project-based contract can be very stressful and time-consuming. I tend to neglect my body by not sleeping at all or eating unhealthy snacks. Loving my body can be hard at times, but I make the extra effort to rationalize, ‘Am I hungry? Or am I just bored or procrastinating?’”

“I’ve changed my perspective and relationship with food. I now see it as an essential to fuel me. I’m able to think properly and get through the day. I no longer see food as a ‘reward’ or an ‘escape,’ which helps me keep a healthy relationship with my body. I also work out whenever I feel sluggish or catch my mental health declining as the endorphins balance me out.”

Pauline ends the conversation with encouraging words. “I think it’s important for women to understand that the ‘ideal body’ does not exist. We all have our own ideal images and should only strive for what’s best for us. Weight gain and weight loss are both very normal things that can happen to anyone. Our bodies are our temples, and we should respect, take care of, and flaunt them. Diets and working out shouldn’t be abused. They should be enjoyed and done in moderation.”

With these women sharing the importance of physical fitness and how it helps them love their bodies better, we hope you will be empowered to always love and be thankful for your body, too.