The Other Side of Exercise

The benefits of exercise stem far beyond aesthetics, there are so many other benefits to exercise that you probably aren’t even aware of.

We all know that exercise is good for weight loss, for toning our muscles and for increasing strength, but did you know that the benefits of exercise extend far beyond physical appearance?

There have been many times where people have asked me why I exercise.. I have often heard things like “but you are skinny, you don’t need to exercise.” Yes, quite right, I don’t need to lose weight, but that is not the reason I exercise, I exercise for the whole host of other benefits that come along with regular physical activity. Too much focus has been placed on having the perfect body, being skinny enough, toned enough, having a 6-pack etc that I think people have forgotten that exercise is beneficial for many other areas of life too.

So today I want to touch on some of the benefits of exercise that don’t involve weight loss or improving aesthetic appearance.

1. Reduced risk of major illnesses
Regular exercise aids in the prevention of many health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Being physically active can help you in leading both a healthier and happier life. Regular exercise helps to strengthen your heart and improve circulation which in turn increases the oxygen levels in your body; this is what helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular physical activity can also play a role in warding off more common illnesses such as colds and flus.

2. Boost Energy
Exercise will improve your energy levels by strengthening your heart and circulation which in turn allows the cardiovascular system to work more efficiently. This then provides you with more energy throughout the day.

3. Improved Mood
Physical activity stimulates the production of chemicals such as endorphins which will make you feel happier and more relaxed. Exercise is a great form of therapy for helping you relax after a stressful day or working out the frustrations of the day. It may be hard to convince yourself to exercise but once you do that workout you won’t regret it. You will feel happier, more relaxed and the thoughts of killing the person who made your day difficult will have subsided.

4. Improved Mental Health
Studies have shown that exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mental health. Exercise has been shown to help people suffering with things such as stress, depression and anxiety. The chemicals that are released during exercise can help you feel more calm and relaxed and the increased blood flow to the brain can also help you to think more clearly. Regular exercise also helps to  strengthen the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory and leaning.

5. Sleep Better
Regular exercise can improve the quality of sleep as well as make you feel more alert during the day. You may be able to fall asleep more easily and will experience longer periods of slow wave sleep which is your deep sleep stage. This is the most restorative stage of sleep.

6. Improve self-esteem and body image
Seeing the results from your workouts gives you a confidence boost.

7. Strengthen bones and muscles
As we age, we lose bone density over time. Regular physical activity can help to slow this down and help decrease the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis. Exercise also helps to maintain or increase muscle mass and strength.

8. Improve balance and co-ordination
Good balance and co-ordination are important in everyday life as they are needed for everyday activities such as walking, using the stairs, reacting to sudden changes of direction etc. Regular physical activity aids in helping you develop and maintain good balance as well as co-ordination; thus making day to day activities easier and preventing falls in the older population.

The bottom line is; exercise is not just for people who need to lose weight or who want to improve their appearance. Exercise is for everyone. Exercise is the backbone to living a healthy, happy life. Even if you feel that you are fit and healthy now, you never know what the future may bring, so exercise for the future you!