Be honest, what is your primary motivation for making the trek to the gym every day? For many people—if not most—the drive behind their fitness efforts are something to do with a better looking body. The notion of improved overall health and well being is a given, and added bonus on to of a better body. But what exactly are the other benefits to exercising?
Here are 21 additional benefits of exercising…
1. Reduced Risk of Injury:
The chance of injury is greatly reduced when you have a strong fit body.
2. Increased Functional Strength
From walking upstairs, to lifting groceries out of the trunk, exercise helps our bodies perform daily activities better.
3. Increased Range of Motion
An increase in flexibility can reduce stiffness in joints, and lessen the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
4. Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise has been shown to helps prevent type 2 diabetes and increase insulin sensitivity—the ability of our muscles to uptake glucose (i.e. sugar).
5. Weight Control
Obviously, regular exercise helps control weight. See more on medical weight loss.
6. Improves Utilization of Fat
Regular exercise improves your body’s ability to use fat for energy during physical activity.
7. Exercise Prolongs Life
Studies show that people who exercise regularly statistically tend to live longer.
8. Improved Mood and Sense of Wellbeing
Exercise helps elevate your mood so you can more easily manage stress and reduce anxiety or depression. The antidepressant effect of regular physical exercise is comparable to commonly used antidepressant drugs.
9. Sleep Better
Exercise can help you sleep better. Studies show that people who exercise tend to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
10. Improved Self-confidence
In addition to improving your physical appearance, exercise can also help you feel more confident, accomplished, and social. The efforts made toward achieving your fitness goals increases one’s overall sense of self.
11. Improved Sex Drive
Studies have shown that regular exercise can increase arousal and decrease men’s risk for erectile dysfunction. Exercise increases circulation, which helps prevent erectile dysfunction and impotence. Exercise also increases the release of sex hormones like testosterone.
12. Reduce Stress
Not only does exercise provide you with a great distraction and an opportunity to get your mind off the things that are stressing you out but also, studies have shown that exercise releases endorphins—your body’s natural stress-fighters.
13. Improves Energy Levels Throughout the Day
Regular exercise can actually make you feel more energized throughout the day. In fact, studies found that exercising in the middle of the day can leave you feeling more energetic and productive for the rest of the afternoon. A midday workout could be a great pick-me-up.
14. May Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
The latest research indicates exercise can keep the brain sharp into old age and might help prevent Alzheimer’s disease along with other mental disorders that accompany aging.
15. Reduces Aches & Pains
Exercise improves your body’s ability to sit still and be comfortable for long periods of time. If you have an office job, exercise is a crucial and could greatly improve your comfort level throughout the day.
16. Tap into your Creative Potential
A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativity for up to two hours after your workout. Boost your inspiration by exercising outside and interacting with nature. The next time you need a burst of creative energy, step into the outdoors for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time.
17. Increase Productivity—Get More Done!
Research shows that people who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy throughout the day than their more sedentary peers.
18. Sharpen Your Memory
Regular physical activity boosts memory and your ability to learn new things. Exercise increases your body’s production of cells in the hippocampus—the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Working out can boost memory among adults and children alike. A study showed that running sprints improved vocabulary retention among healthy adults.
19. Improved Ability to Focus
Exercise and a fitter body will supply more oxygen to your brain which in turn helps improve your brain’s ability to concentrate, remember, visualize, plan ahead, and solve problems.
20. Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Lifting weights has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis by increasing bone density.
21. Reduced Risk of Illness
A medium-intensity exercise routine has been a proven cold-stopper because of it increases the number and activity level of important immune-system players called natural killer cells. Studies show that a 40-minute walk 4 days a week can cut the number of colds you experience by 25 to 50 percent and can make the colds you do catch shorter by half.
Exercise and physical activity are a great way to not only look better but FEEL better as well. On a very basic level, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Some studies suggest that exercising in the morning or afternoon is ideal and will increase productivity and energy throughout the day. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.