• 1. Harness the Feel Better Effect

    No matter what state of mind you start out in—exhausted, stressed, distracted—exercise tends to shift your mood toward having more energy and a more positive outlook. Psychologists call this “the feel better effect.” Take full of advantage of this effect by with a book that uplifts. Two to consider: Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott, and Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron. Both acknowledge the anxieties of modern life, while offering advice on how to choose hope and courage.

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    Almost Everything

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    Welcoming the Unwelcome

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  • 2. Embrace Your Full Self

    Exercise can trigger body shame and self-judgment, but it doesn’t have to. Physical activity is an opportunity to sense your strength, power, and beauty. Let the endorphin rush of your workout remind you that you are amazing and worthy just as you are. Pair your workout with a book that explores societal judgment and self-acceptance, such as the memoir Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim by Leah Vernon, or one that teaches step-by-step how to offer yourself kindness, such as Heartwork: The Path of Self-Compassion by Radhule Weininger.

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    Unashamed

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    Heartwork

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  • 3. Let Movement Be a Metaphor

    In every challenging workout, there comes a moment when your body or mind wants to quit. Getting through those moments makes movement empowering. You get to experience yourself as someone who persists, endures, and rises to the challenge. These are lessons that carry over into other areas of life. Lean into this aspect of your workout with a book that celebrates the value of physical effort, such as 26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life From My Marathon Career, by Meb Keflezighi and Scott Douglas, and The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience by Jennifer Pharr Davis.

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    26 Marathons

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    The Pursuit of Endurance

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  • 4. Take Some Me-Time

    Exercise can quiet the mind, giving you a break from your usual habits of thought. That makes your workout a perfect time for contemplation, whether you’re looking to find perspective on a problem or cultivate a mindset like gratitude. Consider starting your workout by dipping into a collection of daily reflections or poetry. Two new books to try: I Really Needed This Today by Hoda Kotb, which provides 365 days of thought-provoking quotes and reflections, and The Poetry Remedy: Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind, and Soul by William Sieghart, which offers poems specifically chosen to counter states of mind like anxiety, loneliness, and feeling stuck in life.

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    I Really Needed This Today

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    The Poetry Remedy

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  • 5. Get Motivated

    Research shows that exercise makes you more confident that you can reach your personal goals, and more motivated to take active. There’s something about getting your heart rate up, breathing deeply, and being present in your body that makes you feel like you can take on the world. Why not combine exercise with a book that encourages you to dream big and go after what you want, such as Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo, or The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving A Legacy by Lewis Howes.

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    Everything Is Figureoutable

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  • The cover of the book The School of Greatness

    The School of Greatness

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