Exercise is fantastic if you want to lose weight. It burns calories, speeds up your metabolism, allowing you to eat more (of the right stuff) and still be in calorific deficit so you can get closer to achieving your weight-loss goals. Exercise also changes the chemicals in your brain, improving your mindset, and allowing you to make better decisions with your food intake. But, despite all this, weight loss is the probably the least exciting benefit of exercise!
Here are seven impressive exercise benefits bigger than weight loss…
Improves brain health
If you’re in your 20s or 30s, chances are you might not think much about your grey matter. But, now it’s time to get smart. Just as you can kill off brain cells with drugs and alcohol, you can prevent cognitive decline, and reduce the chances of getting serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s or having a stroke, through exercise. In fact, MRIs of individuals in their 60s in a US study showed that after only six months of exercise, their grey matter increased. So if you want to look after your brain, and get a little sharper, get moving.
Helps battle addiction
Some of you may have already experienced the sensation of not really wanting that beer or wine after a good bout of exercise. Exercise creates hormones that give you a satisfying reward, decreasing the need for artificial “feel-goods”. This is why exercise is a popular tool in addiction treatment programs…
Exercise makes you feel more chilled out throughout the day. With our bodies constantly churning out fight or flight hormones (such as adrenaline) in our stressful day-to-day lives, exercise helpfully chews up these hormones and brings your body back to balance. The result? You’ll feel so much calmer. (And you’ll be much healthier, as chronic stress does horrible things to your body, such as increasing visceral fat, increasing the likelihood of diseases such as hypertension and obesity, lowering your immune system and negative impacts on your sex life – yes, that’s right!)
Helps fight depression
A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine concluded that “aerobic exercise at a dose consistent with public health recommendations is an effective treatment for (major depressive disorder) of mild to moderate severity…” Researchers found that the depressed individuals in the study group performing high levels of activity reaped results similar to SSRI medication (a commonly used antidepressant).
Reduces pain sensations
Exercise dims our response to pain, and in some instances can make the pain go away completely. This is due to the de-stressing benefits of exercise such as reduced muscle tension and increased endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers.
Turns you into a highly productive machine
Ever notice how fit people seem to get so much stuff done? Nothing seems to tire them out. Get yourself fit, flexible and strong and even the most mundane things become easier: cleaning the car, weeding the garden, even skipping off to buy the groceries…no problems! As for your unfit friends, they’ll still be stuck sitting on the couch, wondering how you ever manage to find the time to pack in so many things.
Keeps you active and happier for longer
If you want to extend your active years, exercising regularly into old age is a great way to achieve it. You stay fitter, more flexible and stronger for far longer than those who are inactive. Get out there and exercise, and you’ll be able to keep moving, playing, travelling, making things, socialising and giving everyone else a hard time keeping up with you, right up ‘til the very end. Now, won’t that be satisfying?
Sage Institute of Fitness – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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