A great body isn’t the only benefit you’ll get from working out at the gym. Exercise can boost brain function, as well. Research has shown that weather you like to stroll or run marathons, exercise provides some major mental perks. Here are some ways exercise can improve mental health, relationships, and lead to a better quality of life.

1. Lessen stress. Bad day at work? Get on your feet and exercise to reduce mental stress. Exercise raises amounts of norepinephrine, a chemical that can regulate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and work up a sweat — working out can decrease stress and improve the body’s ability to cope with existing mental strain.

2. Increase happy chemicals. Endorphins are released when you work out. These chemicals create feelings of contentment and joy while fighting off anxiety and depression. This can be achieved by working out for just 30 minutes a few times a week.

3. Boost self-confidence. Get moving to look and feel like a million bucks. Even small amounts of physical activity can raise self-esteem and improve self-image. Exercise can rapidly improve self- perception and instantly make you feel more attractive.

4. Enhance brainpower. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can generate new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. Scientists have shown that a vigorous workout raises levels of a brain-derived protein, which is also called BDNF. This protein is believed to aid in decision making, higher level thinking, and learning new concepts.

5. Improve memory. Tired of forgetting things unless you write them down? Regular physical activity improves your ability to learn new things and sharpens your memory. Exercise increases the amount of cells in hippocampus (the part of your brain where memory and learning take place). One study showed that running sprints improved vocabulary retention among healthy adults .

Regular exercise can result in positive effects besides a great body. Improving self-confidence, obtaining a positive attitude, and even thinking smarter are some of the reasons to take time for exercise.