Exercise is good for you. I think we all know that we should be more active and less sedentary. Maybe we don’t know why, but we know that promoting physical activity is a health-motivated movement. The health benefits of exercise is overwhelming, so I’m just listing a few general ones. I’ve cited my sources at the end, so read up if you’re interested or want more information!
Control Weight, and reduce chance of CVDs. This is a very popular reason for starting a workout program or becoming more active. “Lose weight” is likely the sole workout goal of many individuals, and exercise is great for achieving that. Increasing energy expenditure can tip someone into a caloric deficit, a key part of losing weight. As it goes, losing weight reduces the chance for heart disease in overweight and obese individuals. Exercise is a beneficial investment for someone who is at risk.
Improves mood. Sometimes when I’m having a bad or stressful day, I force myself to go to the gym because of the relief that exercise provides.For me, stress feels like built up but restrained energy; It causes my muscles to tense up and impairs my focus. Exercise is a way to release that energy, be distracted for a wonderful short time, and essentially reset myself. Not only do I feel great because of the surge of feel-good-hormones (endorphins), but accomplishing a workout is something to feel good about!
Better prepares you for a high stress situation. Think about some things that happen when you’re in a stressful situation, whether an anxiety/panic attack or even someone jumping you: you’re heart rate skyrockets, and your breathing increases. Quite similar to what happens when you exercise, actually. If you’re not conditioned to that physical stress, then you’re not prepared to handle it and you have less control over the outcome. By conditioning yourself to the healthy stress of exercise, you can prepare your body to better handle situational stresses that pop-up unexpectedly.
Exercise gives you energy during the day, and better sleep at night. A good workout is like a nice perk-me-up; maybe it’s the increased blood flow or hormonal response, but it does wake you up! (This is why exercise is not a good idea right before your bedtime…) It makes you more alert and less sleepy during the day, so you can then look forward to some higher quality sleep that night.
Get ready for a longer life. We know that as we get older, our body loses a lot of strength and adaptability as well. We lose muscle mass, our bones get weaker, and we aren’t as good at catching our falls. While exercise can’t exactly delay aging (time is, after all, constant), doing physical activity now positively affects the body decades on. Resistance training strengthens muscles and bones before sarcopenia and osteoporosis, and neoromotor exercises (dance, yoga) improve balance and help prevent falls. Much of the exercise and aging research is done on the benefits of exercise in older adults, so why not make physical activity a habit NOW? Older you could be thankful.
If you ask someone why they exercise, they might say “To look good” or “To feel good” or “I want to live longer” or “Reduce my risk for…” They might focus on only a single benefit, but they’re actually gaining a lot more from their active lifestyle.
What are your reasons for working out? Is there a benefit that is particularly motivating to you?