If you are like most people, you probably know that exercise can help you lose weight. You might even know that exercise can improve heart and cardiovascular functioning. But exercise is responsible for so much more than just losing weight and improving heart health.
Making exercise part of your daily routine has health benefits ranging from improved sleep, reduced stress, and even years added to your life. Here are 8 amazing things that will happen when you start incorporating regular exercise into your daily life!
1) Increased Happiness
Everyone wants to be happy, and luckily, exercise can help you. Studies have shown that exercise increases the production of endorphins, the tiny chemicals that are known to produce positive feelings in the brain and reduce the perception of pain. This results in feelings of happiness and therefore a better mood.
Starting your day off with an early morning workout can be the difference between a great day and a terrible day. Many people report feeling happier, satisfied, and more relaxed after a workout. Any type of exercise will produce these feelings, but those on a regular exercise program, and those that increased the exercise intensity, were shown to feel even better and happier.
2) Reduced Stress
Stress is a result of challenging and often frustrating situations in your everyday life. Fortunately, exercise has been shown to reduce stress immediately, as well as reducing baseline stress levels in the long-term. Many people report feeling less angry and irritable after a workout, often using exercise as a positive distraction from daily stressors.
If you are using exercise to deal with everyday stress, you need to know when the best time to exercise is for you. A morning workout has an early positive effect on your mood and prepares you for the day’s stressors. A mid-day workout can serve as a break and allows you to reduce your stress for the rest of the day. And an evening, or late night, workout will reduce your stress and tension before going to bed, allowing you to have a better night’s rest.
3) Improved Sleep
If you are having issues sleeping at night, possibly tossing and turning for hours, start exercising regularly. Many people report falling asleep faster, having longer periods of deep sleep, and feeling more rested in the morning after exercising. The immediate effect of exercise is the depletion of energy reserves. This stimulates the body’s healing process overnight and results in deeper and better sleep.
The long-term impact of exercise on sleep is through reduction in stress, anxiety and depression. All of these health issues are linked with sleep deprivation and occasionally insomnia which obviously negatively impact your sleep cycle. Sleeping better by itself also results in a host of positive health benefits.
4) Reduced Anxiety & Depression
As mentioned before, exercise is linked with positive moods and feelings of self-worth, satisfaction, confidence, and happiness. Anxiety and depression refer to individuals with negative moods and feelings of worry, self-doubt, uncertainty, and hopelessness.
As you can probably see, the positive effects of exercise and the symptoms of anxiety and depression look like complete opposites. Regular exercise is linked with reductions in anxiety and mild to moderate depression. Exercise can instill feelings of self-worth and confidence which lowers anxiety and helps to lift people out of depression. Better sleep due to exercise also has as secondary positive effect on anxiety and depression.
5) Increased Strength, Flexibility & Bone Health
While many guys move towards exercise to get big, hypertrophy is not the only benefit of exercising. A well-rounded exercise program incorporates both strength and stabilization training. Stabilization, or flexibility training, results in improved handling of everyday tasks, improved blood circulation, and improved joint range of motion while strength training is responsible for increased muscle mass, self-confidence, and bone health and density.
Resistance training is highly recommended in at least some form due to its positive long-term impact on bone health. It has been shown that weight-bearing exercises put extra stress on the muscles and bones. This stress causes your muscles to adapt to the stress, and your bones to stay strong and healthy. These effects then help prevent muscle loss and osteoporosis as you age.
6) Improved Heart & Cardiovascular Health
Nowadays everyone is sitting down. Whether its because you’re working on the computer at work, watching tv, driving, or playing video games, the majority of your time is spent sitting down behind a screen or the wheel. This epidemic is having dramatic negative effects on posture, but more importantly, cardiovascular health. Only 20% of all Americans get the recommended 2.5 hours exercise per week, while certain populations get almost no exercise at all. This is causing major health issues such as cardiac arrest, obesity, diabetes, and more, all of which could be prevented by regularly exercising.
Regular exercise improves your cardiovascular health by lowering your blood pressure, reducing plague buildup in the heart and arteries, lowering blood pressure, and boosting high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as good cholesterol. All of these effects together make your heart more efficient.
7) Improved Body Composition
Building off the previous point, over 30% of Americans are currently struggling with obesity, and the majority of these cases are a result of inactivity and overeating. When engaging in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn over the course of your workout. Burning fewer calories than are being consumed results in weight loss and doing it under the supervision of an expert results in mostly fat being lost.
It is recommended that every adult gets at least 150 minutes of cardio and strength training per week, this is about 30 minutes per day (not including the weekend). Improved body composition will have tremendous positive effects. Not only will your body become healthier, everyday tasks will become easier, your self-image and body-image will improve, and you will feel better and happier.
8) Live longer
Exercise has incredible positive health effects ranging from better sleep to being less prone to cardiovascular disease. All together these positive effects result in a better, happier, and longer life. It has been shown that 150 minutes of weekly exercise can increase your lifespan by 3.4 years while doubling the exercise results in adding over 4.2 years to your life!
On the other hand, obesity and inactivity reduces your lifespan by over 7 years. If you used to be obese and inactive, but then decide to exercise and lose the weight, you’re looking at almost 11 years being added to your life. All it takes is 30-60 minutes of daily exercise, and I’d say that’s worth it!
From making you happier, to adding years to your life, regular exercise is incredibly beneficial to your long-term health. But however beneficial exercise might be, the majority of people will not exercise if they are not enjoying it. Fortunately, there are hundreds of different styles of exercise. From resistance training by yourself to finding new friends in exciting classes, there is a style of exercise for everyone. The best exercise plan is the one you can stick to, so find what works for you and stick with it!