Exercise has been shown, over the years, to provide a variety of benefits that don’t just include weight loss. From simple activities such as dancing and walking to the more strenuous like running and swimming, regardless of your current ability, we recommend you find the time to begin getting active and enjoy all the health benefits that come with it.
Starting with the obvious one, exercise can help to prevent weight gain, as well as facilitate weight loss. The more intense and strenuous the session is, the more calories you will burn, and if you’re in a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than you are burning), you will begin to reap the benefits, and see dramatic fat burning results.
It isn’t just vigorous exercise that will help you shed unwanted weight. Simple things, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, or going for a short brisk walk when you’d normally be watching television, will be beneficial. The most important factor is being consistent.
Physical exercise has been to shown to be incredibly beneficial to one’s mental well-being. From practising yoga to going for a run, the movements release endorphins – or ‘feel good’ hormones – in the brain which help to calm the mind and relax the body, as well as helping to promote the release of serotonin and norepinephrine, responsible for reducing instances of depression.
Some other positive effects that can arise from regular exercise include reduced anxiety and stress, as well as improving self-esteem, and cognitive function. And it doesn’t matter how intense your workout is, as even something as simple as walking can benefit your mood.
Some studies have also shown that the more you exercise, the better quality sleep you will have. This is due to tiring your body out during the day, giving it a good reason to thoroughly rest throughout the night.
Research has shown that the more consistent exercise you do, the less fatigued you will feel from day-to-day, by boosting energy and maintaining, and building, muscle strength.
Because your heart rate is increased during physical activity, it helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and tissues, helping your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently. As you get fitter, your heart and lungs will see improvements in their health, giving you more energy throughout the day.
On top of this, exercise has been shown to be one of, if not the, most effective treatment for chronic fatigue, as well as proving incredibly positive for individuals with progressive illnesses, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV.
You don’t need to limit yourself to one particular type of exercise either to see some positives. Combining aerobic exercise with resistance training or weight lifting can produce some of the best results.
By abstaining from exercise, you may be putting yourself at risk of developing chronic diseases. This is because of how regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity, and cardiovascular fitness, and lowers blood pressure. Even in the short term, a lack of exercise can lead to an increase in body fat, which can increase the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
By strengthening your heart muscle, raising the good cholesterol in your body, and lowering the bad cholesterol, you are able to combat the risk of disease onset, without having to go to drastic means.
You are able to improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills, all by frequent exercising.
By improving blood flow to the brain, more oxygen can travel there helping stimulate the production of hormones that enhance the growth of brain cells, known as neurogenesis. Going for an intense workout also helps the body to produce a protein that may help with decision making and learning.
Exercise is also beneficial to the hippocampus part of the brain, supporting it and preventing its degradation, and even helping it to increase in size, which is important in helping to ward off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia, as well as increasing mental function in adults.
Perhaps a surprising benefit to getting active is its ability to improve an individual’s creativity. For up to two hours following a workout session, creativity can be boosted, and it’s believed to arise from the increased oxygen and nutrients that have been flooding the brain, as well as the positive effects on the hippocampus.
So, whether you’re more of a runner than a swimmer, or simply fancy a relaxed yoga session, we’d encourage you to begin to regularly exercise so you can reap the variety of benefits that it can bring to your life.
Ella Hendrix is a versatile freelance writer, currently covering articles on yoga, mental wellness and nutrition. On a usual day, you’ll most likely find her walking her Labradors or sipping a peppermint tea.
Written in collaboration with Lap Spa Health Club.