1. Beating Depression
After my first baby, I was shocked to find myself crying uncontrollably. This period of “baby blues” balanced a little after a few weeks. However, I was still struggling with a general cloud of sadness. I found exercise to be a huge relief from the overwhelming lack of desire to do daily tasks. According to the Mayo clinic, exercise does 3 main things to help ease the effects of depression and anxiety:
- Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids)
- Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
- Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects
Since depression and anxiety affects 40 million Americans, and women are twice as likely to be affected by it, this is a big reason why you should be working out. Personally, this is one of the main reasons I started exercising and continue to make it a priority.
2. Cardiovascular Health
Your heart is a muscle–an important one at that–and it wants to be exercised! Inactivity leaves you at a major risk for heart disease. Studies show that exercising a minimum of 30 minutes a day significantly lower your risk of heart disease and bad (LDL) cholesterol.
I have a son who I like to say has a gift of noticing things around him– amazing eye sight, keen hearing, aware of others feelings, and very sensitive to large groups of people. Some might call this distracted. And you know what I’ve noticed helps him? Exercise. We leave the house every morning and run, go for walks outdoors, play at the playground, dig in the sand at the beach, run through sprinklers–anything to get his heart rate up and burn off energy. Can you relate to this? A study done by the University of British Columbia, found that regular exercise can actually boost the size of your hippocampus– the area in your brain involved in verbal memory and learning.
The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
4. Improvement at work
If spending 30 minutes a day meant you had more energy, improved memory, more confidence, and more focus, would it be worth it to you? A study done by Leeds Metropolitan University, found that on the days employees exercised they were more productive.
Have you ever noticed an increase in your energy overall once you start working out? Maybe you didn’t on day one, but what about after a week, or two? I know I notice a big shift in my energy levels when I find an enjoyable form of exercise. For a season, running was very refreshing for me. Recently, after the birth of my third baby, yoga was recharging and felt amazing to my body. My husband enjoys more organized sports like soccer or tennis for exercise. Find something that works for you, and you will reap the benefits.
The benefits of exercise go beyond your daily focus, and have long-lasting effects such as reduced inflammation in your brain, growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
Poor posture can lead to back pain, diastasis recti (a separation of abdominal muscles), an inability to balance, and shrinking as you age. Exercise will help to strengthen your core and large muscle groups, which helps to to support your spine and the weight of your torso.
Daily exercise will result in increased confidence due to outer benefits such as weight loss, greater muscle tone, and physical strength. As well as inner strengths, like an increased inner trust, a feeling of success, and consistent follow-through on a program and completed challenges.
9. Weight Loss
This is the main goal we connect with the reason for exercise, but it’s still worth noting. Instead of focusing on a huge weight loss goal, break that number up into smaller increments and celebrate each step along the journey.
Based on what I’ve read, researchers don’t know exactly why exercise helps you sleep, but the studies do show an improvement for those with chronic insomnia with long-term exercise.
11. Improved Immune System
Ever have a coach tell you to “just run it off” when you have a cold? Well there may be something to that. One theory is that the rise in temperature during exercise may help your body fight an infection, similar to the way a fever does. Just be careful not to overdo it.
12. Longer Life
Based on all of the reasons I’ve listed here, you can understand why your life will be longer with regular exercise. Although there isn’t conclusive data on how much exercise increases the length of life, research does say it clearly helps prevent premature death.
13. Bone Strength
In addition to a healthy diet full of vegetables, calcium, and vitamins (and free from tobacco use), weight-bearing exercise can help prevent bone loss.
14. Improved Breathing
Does someone in your family have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)? Cardio can help your body more efficiently take in oxygen.
15. Builds Intelligence
Thanks to the big fitness kick in the 80’s, there were a number of studies done that show us just how beneficial fitness is to our intelligence. Studies found that the greatest impact exercise had was on the executive functioning centers in our brains. This portion of your brain helps with planning, decision making, and goal-directed actions. This link has continued to be proven in various studies since then.
16. Lowers Dementia Risk
Based on a study of 1740 adults over the age of 65, those who worked out 3 or more times a week were less likely to develop dementia.
17. Better Sex
By boosting your mood, reducing stress, increasing endorphins, aiding blood flow, and improving your libido, your marriage will benefit from your daily workout.
18. Fun and Enjoyment
Many people say they don’t enjoy working out. However, most people do enjoy something that has a physical component. Whether it is hiking, sports, swimming in the lake, skiing, or dancing, there are many enjoyable options that can get you out of the gym and moving your body.
19. Reduces Stress
Exercise reduces your body’s stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline, while boosting your endorphin’s. This allows you to let go of the nervous jitters from daily stress, and to enjoy what is often referred to as a “runner’s high.” Sounds good, right?
20. Benefits Your Children
This one is very important to me. A study done with 554 mothers and their 4 year olds in the UK, showed that mothers who spent 30 minutes of moderate to rigorous activity daily, had children who engaged in more activity. The impact of children exercising is big! Not only will they experience everything I have listed above, but it reduces their health risks to begin with. They are less likely to become obese, or suffer from mental health challenges, and can boost their school performance.