Flex Your Gratitude Muscles

An attitude of gratitude can help everything from your mood to your booty — six easy ways to be thankful.

Allison Young | May 05, 2016

Don’t just count your reps, count your blessings! Science says that giving thanks can do a lot more than change your outlook; it can benefit your body, health and even the number on the scale. Read on for the crazy-awesome perks of practicing gratitude, plus tips to cultivate more of it.

1. Exercise More.

Giving thanks can get you to the gym — and keep you going. A study by the University of California, Davis, found that gratitude-givers exercised an average of 1.5 hours more per week.

Bonus! Think of exercise as a gift you’ve been given rather than a chore you must do, and you’ll be less likely to fall off the workout wagon.

2. Sleep Better.

Forget sheep; count your blessings! According to a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, spending just 15 minutes a night jotting down grateful sentiments can make you sleep better and longer.

Bonus! Better sleep means more workout hours logged and less cravings.

3. You’re Grateful — Say It!

“Gratitude is good medicine,” says Robert Emmons, Ph.D., psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Studies have linked the practice of gratitude to lower blood pressure, lower levels of bad cholesterol and even improved immune function.

Bonus! When a person expresses gratitude, they’re more likely to care about their health and even get regular checkups.

4. Boost Willpower.

If you’re agonizing over whether to eat that slice of chocolate cake, gratitude could help bolster your self-control. In one study, psychologists from Northeastern University found that writing about a grateful experience can help us think long term rather than focus on instant gratification. “Grateful people are less likely to make rash, hasty decisions they will later regret,” Emmons says.

Bonus! Keeping a gratitude journal can cut your fat intake, keeping you on the road to shaping the physique you want.

5. Improve Energy.

When your inner slacker kicks in, the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. The antidote could be gratitude. One study found that those who regularly wrote down things they were grateful for reported higher energy levels and increased life satisfaction.

Bonus! Gratitude is contagious. You not only reap the rewards but so do those around you.

6. Put It in Writing.

Pick up that pen! People who keep a gratitude journal report being 25 percent happier. Writing a letter also can get the good vibes flowing. In a University of Pennsylvania study, writing and delivering a gratitude letter had a positive impact on happiness one month later.

Bonus! Practicing gratitude has also been shown to fend off stress, anxiety and depression.

Get Your Gratitude

On! More ways to increase your thankfulness.

1. Before you get out of bed, think of three things you’re grateful for.

2. Write a meaningful letter to someone you’re thankful for.

3. Start a gratitude journal and write down one thing you’re grateful for each day.

4. Reflect on a nice thing someone did for you, or think about a person you’re grateful for.

5. Send a daily gratitude note to a buddy (and vice versa).

6. Write what you’re thankful for on Post-its and stick ’em on your bathroom mirror.

About the Author

Allison Young