8 Awesome Benefits of Exercise Besides Weight Loss That You Will LOVE
By: Jamie A www.MindBodyandLaughter.com
We all know that diet + exercise helps with weight loss. This is one of the BEST benefits of exercise! In fact, establishing an exercise routine (at least 3 x per week), especially as we get older, can help boost our metabolism and increase muscle mass, which in turns helps with fat loss, weight loss, and maintenance. For example, my mom is in amazing shape in her late 60s, not just because she balances her diet, but also because she works out like a boss!
However, sometimes exercise doesn’t seem to be a top priority if you have the genes and metabolism of a 14-year-old boy. I’m talking about all of you over 30 who can eat anything and not gain a pound…*stares jealously.* Or for some of us, working out doesn’t seem to have a huge impact our weight, and so we get frustrated and discouraged from exercising since we don’t see results. Who can relate? What you may be forgetting, however, are all of the OTHER benefits of exercise besides weight loss that you’re missing out on. That is why, despite the fact that working out can sometimes make me eat like Joey Chestnut, I still exercise weekly and you should too.
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If you start and maintain a consistent exercise/workout routine, you will:
1. IMPROVE INTERNAL HEALTH = REDUCE RISK OF CHRONIC ILLNESSES
We probably all have heard of some of the medical benefits of exercise, which include reducing your risk of chronic diseases (Pub Med Source). For example, you can lower your blood pressure, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and decrease the risk of heart disease, among many others. “But I eat perfectly: micro-greens and kombucha smoothies daily.” Even that sometimes isn’t enough to do the trick. Believe it or not, even “skinny” looking people can be internally unhealthy, so don’t idolize your favorite celebrity too much! She could be living a sedentary, Cheez-It-packed-on-the-sofa lifestyle. Diabetes can lead to loads of other health problems later in life (as I saw with my grandma), so you definitely want to avoid it, if possible. And even if you have type 2 diabetes – guess what? Exercising can help with managing this disease (Pub Med Source).
I recommend measuring your blood pressure with a home blood pressure machine so you can see the results of exercise.
2. GET STRONGER = PREVENT MUSCLE INJURY AND ATROPHY
You may not plan to compete in American Ninja Warrior, but you should aim to at least be functionally strong to prevent muscle injury. As we get older, our muscles deteriorate, which can lead to injury. One of the benefits of exercise is that it builds and maintains muscle to keep us strong (Pub Med Source). Do you really want to be that old lady who needs her grandson to carry her 5 lb. knitting bag? Although that may be fun on occasion to embarrass your grandkids, I know that I definitely want to be able to scuba dive, rock climb, run and ride bikes even when I am 90 (if possible). The more we can continue to be active as we get older, the more fulfilling life continues to be = happier life.
3. REDUCE STRESS
“I LOVE stress!” said nobody EVER. Stress is plain gross and can cause a plethora of other problems. However, stress reduction is easily one of the best benefits of exercise (Pub Med Source). I’m sure we’ve all had a day where we just feel upset because our significant other didn’t give our dog the proper hair brushing and now he looks like an old Muppet. Go work out and work out HARD. Somehow, it seems that the angry energy is released through exercise and the internal stress reduced. If you find yourself chewing up your fingernails (I am gross and I admit it) like I do, go for a run and get that energy and stress out of your body…now!
4. IMPROVE MOOD = FEEL HAPPIER
Who wants to feel happier? I do, I do! Well, that’s one of the main benefits of exercise and reasons that I work out several times per week (Pub Med Source). Exercise can improve your mood and boost your brain’s “happy” chemicals. The mood-boosting effect is different for everyone depending on genetics and exercise intensity, of course. We often dread and don’t look forward to exercising, if we aren’t used to it. But how often AFTER exercising, do you regret it and feel worse? I have never heard someone say, “Man, I really regret that workout.” (Unless you try to run a marathon with no training whatsoever…that’s on you, silly rabbit).
5. BOOST SELF-CONFIDENCE
“Yas, queen.” That’s it. That’s all there is to it. You want to feel your BEST. Well, exercise can help EMPOWER you and enable you to feel your best to boost your confidence. As someone who has struggled with self-confidence her entire life, I totally relate. Learning to love your body and embrace yourself is so important for strong mental health. Exercise can give you the little nudge you need to feel #awesome about yourself! Now take that mirror selfie (no shame, we all do it) and tell yourself you’re beautiful!
6. SLEEP BETTER
One of the other benefits of exercise is how it can help improve your sleep (Pub Med Source). I LOVE sleep. If I could sleep 10 hours a day and still have the same number of hours to work/be productive, I would! Luckily, I usually don’t have any issue sleeping, and I definitely attribute that partially to a great memory foam mattress and partially to exercise. You get your body’s energy out and reduce stress via exercise, so when it comes time to sleep, your body is like, “Okay, I am exhausted. Let’s do this.” This also helps me sleep better because it calms my overactive mind and stops me from thinking late at night, which can prevent sleep. Try it! You may notice a difference, too.
7. INCREASE ENERGY
If you struggle with feeling sluggish, having chronic low-energy and you aren’t currently exercising, then you should start NOW (Pub Med Source). Exercising can improve your energy levels throughout the day, not just while you work out. You may not even need your morning coffee if you exercise in the morning! Okay, just kidding – let’s not get too crazy. I still have my morning coffee (with an awesome coffee + espresso maker) + exercise in the AM. However, I used to take frequent naps back in the day, and now my morning routine = big glass of water + coffee + exercise + work. I feel energized, focused and not drowsy. I rarely nap unless I have been kept up all night by puppies snoring.
8. INSPIRE CREATIVITY & IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION
Exercising can also ignite your brain activity and improve brain function (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience). In doing so, it may spur creative or innovative thinking or enable your problem-solving skills. For example, if you’ve been trying to think of a topic for your book or maybe a new design for your latest sewing project, you may find that your most brilliant ideas come to you while you’re working out! Maybe you won’t have an Einstein moment, but exercising will at least give you a time to be alone with your thoughts to stop and THINK. This is important for overall mental health and learning to be more mindful.
I hope this post has encouraged you to keep exercising or start exercising, whether it impacts your weight or not. You don’t have to be PERFECT. Even if you start small – like walking 3 x week – that is better than the person sitting and doing nothing. It’s important to make exercise a habit and an established routine. Eventually, just like brushing your teeth, you’ll do it automatically and feel SO much better for doing so! Don’t aim for Victoria’s Secret fitness model status. Just aim for finding the best YOU.