Exercise is so much more than tight glutes and toned arms. It’s more than just liking what you see in the mirror and trying on a smaller size. I mean, all those things are super important and usually the driving force that gets us into the gym, but those outcomes are just the end result of all your hard work.
So, let’s talk about the benefits of getting some kind of exercise daily.
For starters, countless studies show doing aerobic (and anaerobic) exercise for anywhere from 20- 60 minutes can have you burning calories for hours after your workout.
It’s called the Afterburn Effect or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). It means that after a solid cardiovascular workout, your body continues to consume greater amounts of oxygen to help repair muscles, thus burning more calories.
Things like intensity and duration of the exercise affect how long the Afterburn Effect lasts. If you’re working hard and getting your heart rate up with HIIT workouts, cardio and even resistance training, you’ll benefit from EPOC.
Burn more calories — check!
Exercise increases your heart rate and improves the circulation of oxygen-rich blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. The benefits of this are wildly good for you.
Here are some that you don’t want to miss out on…
Exercise improves brain function
Don’t we all want to hold onto our smarts? And get even smarter?
You can probably relate to feeling like a rockstar after you crush a workout. And, it’s no surprise to feel like you have a better handle on your day, unclouded thoughts in your head and more patience for your loved ones.
Some studies show people have better cognitive performance after a good run. Meaning they learn quicker, feel better emotionally and think more clearly. Even an activity like walking can increase creativity, especially if you can do it outdoors (although indoors is beneficial too).
When you’re done reading this article, come back to check out this fantastic TED Talk on the significant and immediate benefits exercise has on your brain. I mean It. Is. Good.
Get smarter — check!
Exercise is known to make you feel happier, more accomplished and give you more energy. It stimulates your brain to release endorphins — chemicals in the brain responsible for reducing pain, discomfort and giving us an overall feeling of joy and well being. In many cases, exercise has been just as useful for treating mild-moderate depression as medication.
Motion drives emotion, and when we’re inactive, we tend to feel lazier, sleepier and eat less healthy.
When we get moving, we feel driven, accomplished and empowered. Ever noticed how a walk you were almost too tired to take actually made you feel more energized and mentally refreshed?
Even on the most challenging days when there’s no more energy to expend, moving your body can instantly recharge you.
Fitness is a form of self-care too. By making time to improve your health, you are loving yourself. You build confidence, strength, stamina, endurance. Only good things come from that!
Emotionally happy — check!
Exercise is what the Dr. ordered
As physicians, we believe you’re putting yourself at risk by not working out. As we age, our metabolism slows down, and we naturally lose strength and balance. These things can easily translate into weight gain, becoming less agile and more prone to falling.
We highly encourage people of all age groups to get some kind of moderately intense activity but even walking and stretching are beneficial. Movement is crucial for people with health conditions because maintaining a healthy weight, good circulation and lower blood pressure play a vital part in recovery and management of disease.
Exercise is proven to improve insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. We used to think rest was best when healing from procedures. While yes, it’s essential to be mindful of the types of activity you engage in, we now instruct patients to get moving earlier on in the healing process, even if it’s for small amounts of time per day.
Exercise also helps fight degenerative diseases. It’s associated with decreasing the incidence and effects of dementia, and it helps people stay healthy to continue doing basic life tasks for themselves.
Prevents disease —check!
Exercise improves sleep
Anyone else dreaming about how they’d love to get better sleep?
There’s lots of evidence suggesting exercise has a positive effect on sleep habits. While sleep is a significant concern in Americans, researchers continue to investigate how exercise affects sleep quality and duration. Reports show that obese children have deeper, more restorative sleep when they incorporate daily fitness vs. those that don’t.
Exercise reduces anxiety, increases weight loss, and improves health conditions —all things that affect proper sleep. By carving out time for it in your day, you can improve your sleep quality, making you feel happier, well-rested and energized.
Better sleep —check!
When you look good, you feel good.
When you feel strong, you feel confident.
When you finish a killer workout, you feel like you could conquer the world.
How has working out changed your life? I’d love to hear it because I feel like there are even more benefits than what I talk about here. Leave me a comment below.