Fitness and exercise have so many benefits, both physical and mental, that it’s hard to believe more people don’t get into the habit of staying active and exercising regularly. When you stay fit and healthy, you feel better about yourself, are more productive at work, sleep better at night, and can even help protect yourself from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, arthritis and more. Luckily, if you can’t think of any reason to begin an exercise routine or start working out regularly (or if you need some extra motivation), this blog about fitness will give you plenty of reasons to get started now.
1. Physical Activity Boosts Energy
While many people associate physical activity with burning calories, it actually has a positive effect on energy levels independent of weight loss. People who lead active lifestyles tend to have more energy throughout their day. If you’re working out in order to lose weight, physical activity is also an excellent way to maintain your energy level throughout the day so that you’re less likely to be tempted by unhealthy snacking or other high-calorie foods. For example, a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that aerobic exercise improves energy levels as much as food does. The researchers concluded that exercise may be regarded as a foodstuff like food insofar as it produces specific physiological effects which are additive to those of food intake alone. In other words, both healthy eating and exercise can help keep your energy levels up—and both are important for weight loss!
2. Regular Exercise Can Improve Sleep
Regular exercise has been shown to have many health benefits. One recent study, conducted at University College London, shows that a healthy amount of exercise can improve your sleep quality. The findings indicate that people who participated in exercise on a regular basis experienced less difficulty falling asleep than those who had very little or no regular exercise. Exercise seems to benefit sleep quality because it creates endorphins, which make you feel good both mentally and physically. These positive feelings may help you fall asleep faster and more easily. If getting enough sleep is an issue for you, consider adding some form of physical activity into your daily routine. You’ll be glad you did!
3. Mental Sharpness is Improved
Working out can increase your brain’s ability to learn. Because regular exercise increases blood flow to all areas of your body, including your brain, exercising regularly can improve your mental sharpness. In fact, research has shown that people who exercised on a regular basis scored higher on tests measuring long-term memory, processing speed and reasoning ability than those who did not exercise at all. Not only does exercise make you smarter, it can also help you focus better. According to studies conducted by scientists at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., exercising in short bursts can significantly boost cognitive performance in healthy adults. The study found that 20 minutes of intense physical activity is enough to significantly improve learning skills for up to an hour after exercise stops. In particular, aerobic activity helps boost working memory—the ability to temporarily hold information in your mind while performing other tasks—and attention span.
4. Weight Loss is Promoted
It’s no secret that exercise can help you lose weight, but in addition to helping you shed pounds, regular workouts also have numerous health benefits. Studies have shown that working out helps prevent cancer, depression, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Regular aerobic exercise can improve cognitive function by stimulating new brain cell growth as well as increasing nerve cells’ ability to communicate with each other—helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Heart Health is Protected
Regular exercise boosts your cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure. If you’re overweight, exercising can help reduce high cholesterol levels, while regular strength training builds lean muscle mass—which makes your body burn more calories at rest. All told, people who are fit have less risk of developing coronary artery disease than those who aren’t fit; they also have better outcomes if they do develop it. In fact, even small amounts of physical activity can go a long way toward protecting your heart. One study found that middle-aged men who walked for just half an hour a day had significantly lower rates of death from all causes over a 20-year period than sedentary men. The message here is clear: Moving around is good for you! But don’t just sit there and read another paragraph when you could be taking a walk outside instead!
6. Immune System Functioning is Enhanced
Recent studies have shown that a healthy level of physical activity can strengthen your immune system functioning. This has two advantages: First, you’re less likely to get sick. Second, if you do catch something, your body will be better equipped to handle it. You’ll recover faster than someone who isn’t used to regular exercise—and that just means more time in which you can enjoy life!
7. Sex Drive and Fertility are Improved
Sex drive, fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth are all impacted by fitness. When you work out regularly, your body produces more testosterone; one of its many benefits is improved sperm production. This means when it comes time to conceive a child, you’ll have an easier time doing so. You will also have a higher libido because fitness reduces stress hormones that lower your sex drive.
8. Chronic Pain is Reduced
Regular exercise can reduce chronic pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Even light activity like walking helps fight pain. A 2010 study in Arthritis Care & Research found that regular walking helped people with arthritis feel less pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and overall disability when compared to those who didn’t walk regularly. Researchers think regular exercise boosts feelings of well-being, which can have a positive impact on chronic pain.
9. Lower Stress Levels are Maintained
Regular physical activity helps lower stress levels in a number of ways. It’s a great way to blow off steam after a hard day at work, plus it promotes an active lifestyle that improves your mood by making you feel more energetic throughout your day. It’s not just about getting up from your desk for a quick walk, though; studies show that even moderate-intensity exercise has health benefits when done regularly. In fact, some suggest 60 minutes per day is optimal!
10. Depression Symptoms are Reduced
We all know that exercise is good for your body, but did you know it’s also great for your brain? There are many ways that exercise benefits both your physical health and mental health. Take a walk around your neighborhood or take a jog through a nearby park to keep yourself healthy on both levels. When it comes to mental health, increased physical activity (and exercise) may even reduce symptoms of depression.