10 (more) reasons to exercise

Sure, working out will help you trim down and shape up. But did you know that regular exercise offers many other health benefits, too? Keep reading to find even more reasons to keep moving — especially now.

First, let’s define what counts as exercise

Any physical activity that gets your heart rate up and works your muscles will deliver health benefits, including the 10 benefits described below. So pick something that works for you, like walking, dancing, swimming, running, lifting weights, yoga, gardening, kickboxing … the list goes on and on. Try to mix it up to keep from getting bored and to work your muscles in different ways.

Regular exercise can:

  1. Fight depression, anxiety, and stress: Exercising relieves tension and stress, while boosting physical and mental energy. It also releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” hormones. And, it makes your brain more sensitive to serotonin and norepinephrine, which can reduce feelings of depression.
  2. Improve skin health: Moderate exercise can increase your body’s production of antioxidants to protect cells from oxidative stress, which deteriorates your skin. The increased blood flow from exercise also helps your skin delay the visible signs of aging.
  3. Boost immunity: Because exercise can reduce the negative impacts of stress on your body, your immune system gets a boost, too, which helps you fight off viruses and stay healthier. Exercise also promotes good circulation, which allows cells and other parts of your immune system to move through your body freely and do their job more efficiently.
  4. Sharpen your brain: By promoting the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain and stimulating the production of hormones that help you concentrate and enhance brain cell growth, exercise can increase brain function, protect memory, and improve thinking skills. Physical activity has even been shown to reduce the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. Improve sleep: Daily exercise helps you relax, stimulates the body’s recuperation process during sleep, and promotes an appropriate drop in body temperature at night — all of which helps you get better quality sleep so you wake up feeling refreshed.
  6. Boost energy: Studies have shown that exercise significantly increases energy levels for both healthy and seriously ill people alike, including those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
  7. Strengthen your bones: Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, running, and lifting weights, helps build bone density and can even help prevent osteoporosis.
  8. Reduce chronic pain: Exercise has been proven to help control pain from chronic conditions, such as back issues, fibromyalgia, and joint disorders. And, the endorphins released during exercise can reduce your perception of pain in general.
  9. Lower the risk of disease: Regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health problems, including stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and several types of cancer.
  10. Extend your life: You’ve probably already figured out from reading this long list of health benefits that people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of death from preventable causes. That means a longer —and more enjoyable — life!

Need help getting into an exercise routine?

There’s always a “reason” not to exercise. Find out how to get past common obstacles that may be stopping you from sticking with your workout plan.

Sources:

“The Top 10 Benefits of Regular Exercise,” Healthline.com, February 10, 2017.
“The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise,”HelpGuide.org, June 2019.
“Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity,” www.mayoclinic.org, May 11, 2019.
“Helpful ways to strengthen your immune system and fight off disease,” www.health.harvard.edu, April 6, 2020.