How often do you exercise? If you’re like most people, the answer to that question is probably I should exercise more often than I actually do. You might feel better, look better, and even perform better at work if you did, but the thought of exercising can seem daunting, especially when you consider everything else you have to do in your life. In reality, though, exercising regularly has a host of positive benefits beyond those of just looking and feeling good. Here are some reasons why it’s important to make time to get regular exercise.
Exercise releases endorphins
Exercise is one of those things that have benefits you’ll notice immediately (like a quick mood boost) and long-term ones (less stress, longer life). There are many reasons why exercise improves your mood—and it’s not just about feeling physically good. Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that create a sense of well-being. In addition to making you feel great in general, endorphins also can lift your mood during stressful times or make it easier to deal with chronic pain. It’s hard to quantify how running on a treadmill will improve your day-to-day happiness, but research shows that even moderate exercise can help combat depression and anxiety symptoms as well as increase overall life satisfaction.
Exercise helps you lose weight
Exercise can help you lose weight in two ways. First, physical activity helps burn calories. Second, exercise allows your body to replace fat with lean muscle tissue, which is metabolically active tissue that uses more calories than fat tissue. But don’t mistake increased calorie-burning for an invitation to eat whatever you want: Exercise doesn’t lead to automatic weight loss; it’s still essential to watch what you eat if you want to drop pounds.
Exercise improves your mood
An Australian study found that people who exercise are less likely to feel depressed or anxious. Researchers also found that participants reported lower levels of fatigue, stress and tension. Exercise also releases endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and reduce feelings of sadness and anxiety. If you’re feeling stressed, put on your sneakers (or grab a jump rope) and head to your nearest gym; you’ll be feeling better in no time. Exercise is especially beneficial for older adults who suffer from depression – a 2003 study showed that aerobic exercise can actually improve moods better than antidepressants in some cases!
Exercise helps prevent disease
There are many benefits to exercise, from helping your body resist infection to improving your brain health. But perhaps one of its most important roles is preventing disease. Exercise helps protect against heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer—the top four causes of death in most countries. Even modest amounts of activity can make a big difference; for example, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week (such as brisk walking) reduces your risk of heart disease by 30% and type 2 diabetes by 50%. And if you already have one or more chronic diseases, exercise can help you manage your condition better by improving muscle strength and endurance and boosting energy levels so you’re less tired and more active throughout the day. #KeepMovingBeHappy!
Exercise improves sleep quality
A study published in 2016 in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that a single session of aerobic exercise significantly improved sleep quality. After 10 days of working out every day for one hour per day, study participants showed a 20% improvement in sleep quality and reported feeling more energetic throughout their day. Exercise may also improve sleep disorders such as insomnia by helping people relax at night and get to bed on time. Try waking up 30 minutes earlier each morning to give yourself time to exercise before you have to start your workday.
Exercise reduces stress and anxiety
Research shows that exercising regularly can reduce levels of stress and anxiety, which in turn boosts energy and helps with sleep. Exercise is also a powerful tool for curbing emotional eating, as all that excess energy has to go somewhere. For example, one study found that people who exercised, even for 30 minutes at a moderate level (like brisk walking), felt less desire to eat after seeing food images than those who didn’t exercise. Another study reported similar findings. You don’t have to spend hours sweating at the gym or running on a treadmill to see results—even just 15 minutes of low-intensity exercise can boost your mood and reduce stress.
Exercise makes you more creative
A strong heart and healthy lungs are not only critical to your overall health, but can also help you live longer. This is especially true for people with existing conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure. For example, if you have hypertension (high blood pressure), exercise can reduce stress on your heart and lead to lower blood pressure readings. Exercise helps improve blood flow in your body, which reduces stress and improves how effectively your heart pumps blood throughout your system; these benefits all contribute to lowering your risk of a sudden cardiac event. Look into enrolling in an aerobic exercise program at a local gym or YMCA if you want to take advantage of their group classes—it’s a great way to meet new people while getting a good workout!
Exercise strengthens your heart and lungs
If you exercise regularly, your heart and lungs will become stronger. You’ll breathe more easily, which helps keep your blood oxygen levels at healthy levels. Your blood circulation will also improve and your metabolism will increase, so you can burn fat faster. One of the best benefits of exercise is that it reduces stress and depression by releasing endorphins—those are chemicals in your brain that make you feel good! Exercise also helps prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. And if weight loss is one of your goals, regular exercise speeds up metabolism—which means you can eat more without gaining weight.
Exercise boosts energy levels
Have you ever felt so tired you couldn’t even get out of bed, only to find yourself energized shortly after exercising? Exercise actually produces endorphins in your brain, which can act as natural painkillers. All those runners high stories you hear are legit. Even if you aren’t one of those people who feels like they just ran a marathon every time they finish their workout, exercise is still great for energy levels.
With a combination of health, longevity, and productivity benefits, exercising regularly should be at least one part of your plan for well-being. This list is not exhaustive and there are many additional benefits to add to it. However, these have been well-researched and verified by medical professionals or other respected sources. Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please share, like, and subscribe to our newsletter.