The Top 10 Surprising Benefits of Exercise
You’ve heard time and again that exercise is good for you, but unless you’re trying to get ready for swimsuit season, you might wonder exactly why it’s so important to work out on a regular basis. Physical activity really does give you so much more than a toned tummy (although that’s great, too!). In fact, an active lifestyle can protect you against everything from osteoporosis to the common cold.
The next time you don’t feel like hitting the gym, check out these 10 unexpected benefits of exercise for motivation:
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke: Daily physical activity can help prevent these leading causes of death by strengthening your heart muscle, raising your good cholesterol (and lowering your bad cholesterol) and improving your blood flow. In fact, studies have shown that exercise lowers your risk of stroke by 27 percent.
- Improved blood pressure: Research has shown that physical activity reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent.
- Healthier aging: A recent study found that frequent physical activity reduces the likelihood that an older person will become physically disabled.
- Less back pain: Workouts focusing on muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and posture can alleviate spinal pressure and improve how you feel from day to day.
- Stronger bones: High-impact workouts prompt bones to add mass, or reduce the loss of mass that occurs naturally as you age.
- Better self-esteem and stress management: Your body produces feel-good endorphins during prolonged, strenuous exercise. Physical activity also provides mental health benefits by improving your self-image as you take the positive initiative to care for yourself.
- Heightened immunity: Regular workouts might help your body fight off colds and the flu by increasing the circulation of cells that ward off viruses and bacteria and by improving your body’s response to the influenza vaccine.
- Reduced breast cancer risk: Research suggests that women who exercise regularly can expect a 20 to 30 percent reduction in their breast cancer risk compared with women who don’t exercise. Although the reason isn’t completely clear, scientists speculate that lower estrogen levels as a result of exercise contribute to these positive results.
- More energy: Exercise gives your muscles increased strength and endurance to perform everyday tasks such as chasing your kids or carrying loaded grocery bags with ease.
- Better sleep: Consistent physical activity can also help you fall asleep faster and improve your sleep quality. Just be sure to schedule a buffer between your workout and bedtime since late-night exercise might amp up your energy when you’d rather be winding down.
Photo credit: Spirit-Fire