Although we might be aware that working out has various benefits, it can be difficult to find the initial motivation to start exercising (*raises hand*). If you’re struggling to get inspired to workout, then it’s important to remember that there are other reasons to exercise besides weight loss.
In addition, with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s more important than ever to prioritize our health!
Matthew Kampert, DO, shares the benefits of exercise that go beyond losing weight. Keep a few of these in your back pocket, so the next time you’re thinking about ditching your workout, you’ll have all the more reason to do it.
- Exercise gives you more energy.
- It helps improve your mood.
- It can help reduce stress levels.
- It can improve sleep quality.
- It can help boost brain power and memory.
- It reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- It can help lengthen your lifespan.
Benefits of exercise
Exercise has countless benefits that extend far beyond weight loss. It can give you more energy, improve your mood, help you sleep better, and even help you live longer. Here are just a few of the many reasons why regular exercise is so important for your overall health and wellbeing.
Makes you feel happier
Endorphins are great for our bodies and mind in so many ways! For one, they help to reduce pain overall and can also boost pleasure to create a sense of well-being and positivity.
So the next time you see your fitness instructor getting all worked up about working out, just remember that there’s science to back up how good endorphins are for us! Not only that, but endorphins can also act as natural painkillers and help with any chronic aches we might have. Plus, regular exercise helps to keep our muscles strong which then lessens our risk of injury down the road.
Gives you more energy
Physical activity is a great way to increase your energy levels. It gets your heart rate up and gets your blood flowing, which means more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. And although it seems odd that expending energy can actually give you more energy, science backs this claim up.
One study found that 90% of people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to those who did not exercise. So next time you’re feeling tired and considering an extra cup of coffee, try going for a walk instead. You might be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards!
Promotes quality sleep
Exercise has plenty of benefits that can help you get a good night’s sleep. Not only can it reduce stress and anxiety levels, but it can also help regulate your internal temperature. If you exercise outside, you’ll also get exposure to vitamin D, which can help regulate your wake-sleep cycle.
Just be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime. Exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, leaving you feeling more relaxed and stabilized – which is the ideal state for falling asleep. While working out can also raise your body temperature and make you feel more alert, it can also help you to drift off better when your internal temperature starts to dip back down again. Furthermore, if you exercise outside, exposure to vitamin D can also help to regulate your wake-sleep cycle. Just be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime.
Helps fight depression
- Research shows that for mild or moderate cases of depression, exercise can be an effective treatment.
- Exercising increases your brain’s sensitivity to serotonin and norepinephrine, which ease feelings of depression.
- But don’t think you need to start training for a marathon to gain the benefits. Even moderate exercise can have a positive impact on your mental health.
- One study showed that just six weeks of yoga (in addition to standard treatment) was enough to reduce depression and even anxiety. Yoga and Pilates also focus on breathing exercises, which can reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Improves sex life
Exercise not only leads to a stronger heart, muscles and improved flexibility, but it can also do wonders for your life. According to research, postmenopausal women who exercised saw an increase in sexual desire, while men who exercised saw a significant improvement in erectile function.
Helps maintain weight
If you’re already at your ideal weight, there are still many benefits to exercising regularly. In addition to burning extra calories that would be stored as fat, working out helps to maintain muscle mass and repair any existing muscle damage.
Exercise also reduces stress levels and can help improve the quality of your sleep — both of which lead to better decisions when it comes to eating. For example, you’re more likely to make healthy choices when you’re feeling less stressed and well-rested.
Helps you live longer
There are so many amazing benefits to regular exercise that it’s hard to keep track! Healthcare providers recommend it for everything from improving or preventing conditions like diabetes and heart disease, to some forms of cancer and obesity.
But that’s not all – regular exercise also keeps your bones, muscles and joints healthy, lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, and protects your mental health. All of these benefits can add up to one thing – living longer (plus feeling good)!
How often should you work out?
The current guideline for physical activity for adults is a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. But we all know that exercise and making it to the gym is easier said than done.
You can get your recommended daily dose of exercise by doing any of the following activities:
- Walking two miles in 30 minutes.
- Biking five miles in 30 minutes.
- Swimming laps for 20 minutes.
- Running one and a half miles in 15 minutes.
- Doing water aerobics for 30 minutes.
- Playing volleyball for 45 minutes.
- Playing basketball for 20 minutes.
Here are some tips to help make exercise a regular part of your life:
- Find an exercise buddy! You’re more likely to stick with your workout if you have a friend waiting for you at the gym. Having someone to exercise with will help keep you accountable, and chances are you’ll feel more committed.
- Make it part of your routine. It takes most people two to six weeks to get into a pattern of regular exercise. The first few weeks may be the hardest, but the longer you do it, the more it will become part of your daily or weekly routine.
When it comes to working out, it’s important to be proactive and have a plan. Dr. Kampert encourages people to get a physical wall calendar and schedule a couple of days each week when they’re going to exercise. It’s also important to find your reason why you’re working out in the first place. For many people, an exercise program is all about losing weight.
For others, it’s about becoming healthier to fight off disease. And for some, moving the body feels like therapy. Find your reason for why you do it. Then on hard days, when the last thing you want to do is move, dig into your reason and use it as motivation.
“Exercise is like a magic pill that can improve our health in so many ways,” says Dr. Kampert.
So until we can bottle up exercise and take it as a pill, it’s important that we put in the effort to move our bodies. In the end, we’re the only ones who can make the decision for ourselves, but the benefits are long-lasting.