9 Fantastic Reasons to Exercise Other Than Weight Loss

9 Fantastic Reasons to Exercise Other Than Weight Loss

What if there were a pill that would make you happier, help you have more energy throughout the day, boost your sex life — and, oh, make you live longer, too? You would take that in a heartbeat, right?

Spoiler alert: Such a fix exists, and it’s something we all have the capacity to do every day. It’s regular exercise; to the tune of 150 moderate minutes a week.

Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University’s School of Medicine recently wrote in The New York Times that in 2015, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges put out a report calling exercise a “miracle cure.” That sounds like a solid review.

The good news, Carroll continued, is that reaping the benefits of this cure aren’t as hard as you might think. A relatively brisk walk (just 3 to 4 mph), a leisurely bike ride, even gardening or heavy cleaning or taking the stairs instead of the elevator all count. So do yoga, weight lifting, slow jogging or at-home Pilates DVDs. The ways to exercise are innumerable — just like the benefits (even if you’re not losing weight).

The next time you’re searching for the motivation to get moving, keep these perks in mind. Your body will thank you.

Reasons to Exercise Other Than Weight Loss

Reduces Pain.

man exercise outdoor reduce pain reasons to exercise

Numerous trials have found that across many kinds of chronic pain conditions, exercise can help. Whether it’s rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, fibromyalgia or more, working with an experienced trainer, physical therapist or physician can often set you on a path to pain relief — and greater physical function.

Increases Quality of Life.

According to the American Heart Association, exercise doesn’t just extend your life, it can prolong your years of optimal health by delaying or preventing chronic illnesses and/or diseases associated with aging. What better reason to get — and keep — moving?

Lowers Risk of Diabetes and Helps Manage the Disease.

Regular training can help regulate blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes and helping those with the condition manage their symptoms. Studies have found a particularly positive correlation between resistance or strength training and improved diabetes outcomes.

Helps Heart Disease.

You know aerobic exercise (yes, even walking) is great for your heart. The AHA says you can split up one 30-minute session into three 10-minute blocks per day, and still see benefits. And there’s reason to do so: One study showed that adults who watch more than 4 hours of television a day had a 46 percent increased risk of death from any cause (due to sitting and sedentary behavior) and an 80 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those who watch less, the AHA notes on its website.

Drops Dementia Risk.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, out of all the lifestyle changes examined to help prevent cognitive decline, exercise is one of the best. Exercise that (safely) ups your heart rate might be the best kind.

What’s really fascinating is that studies have found that if you’re middle age or older and haven’t found a regular movement routine, you can still reap rewards if you start now (after consulting your doctor). It’s never too late.

Makes you Happy.

woman happy exercise outside

For some regular exercisers, getting to the gym is inspired by the feeling they know they’ll have upon leaving the gym. (Endorphins are real!) Not only do regular exercisers have a lower risk of developing mood conditions, such as depression and anxiety, but also movement can help individuals with these and other conditions feel better. Some research has found its almost as effective as drug therapies.

Helps you Sleep.

Regular exercisers are more apt at fitting in their forty winks than those who abstain — no matter the time of day they move. That’s the finding from a 2013 poll from the National Sleep Foundation, which examined the link between sleep and exercise. Movers and shakers not only report a more adequate amount of sleep, but sleep quality is better, too, the poll found.

Boosts Immunity.

When you exercise, you’re taxing your body ever so slightly. This trains your body’s systems to fight back — and come back stronger than before. Over time, exercise can help strengthen your immune defenses, staving off the common cold and more.

Improves Stability.

Load-bearing and balance exercises can mean stronger muscles and bones, decreasing your risk of catastrophic falls as you age, according to the National Institutes of Health. (And because falls are the top cause of disability in older adults, this is a key measure.)

TELL US: Which of these reasons resonates with you? Why do you exercise?

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