Most people who exercise do it to look better, either from expected weight loss or more defined muscles. It’s true. We do it because we’re vain! Yes, there’s a subset of us who do it to be healthier (myself included) but we’d be lying if we said the outer appearance benefits didn’t help propel us to lace up our sneakers and work up a sweat.
But aside from stroking our vanity, exercise has a wide range of benefits, some that you may not even be aware of! Physical activity is quite possibly a panacea for everything that can go wrong in the human body – mental, emotional and physical. Knowing that, it’s hard to imagine why more people don’t do it – but then again, not everyone is tuned in to quite how beneficial it can be aside from out appearance.
If you keep vowing to start exercising but don’t, read on to see some of the “side effects” physical exercise can bring you. Maybe these will be enough to motivate you to get going (and if not – I highly recommend you join the free Light A Fire Under Your Butt 30 Day Exercise Challenge that starts October 12)!
Here are just a few studies that show the benefits of physical activity:
- A University of Toronto review of 26 years worth of research studies found that moderate exercise not only treats but prevents depression.
- A 35 year study funded by the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer’s Society and the British Heart Foundation found that exercise significantly reduces the risk of dementia.
- Several studies (published in the Pediatrics journal) have found that exercise improves focus, memory and cognitive flexibility of children with ADHD.
- Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario have found that just 3 minutes of intense exercise per week can increase cardiometabolic health.
- A University of Georgia study showed that regular, low intensity exercise can reduce fatigue by up to 65% and increase energy by 20%.
- Research done by the University of New South Wales and Neuroscience Research Australia has found that regular exercise alters how we experience pain (and can increase our ability to tolerate pain).
- Analysis of 305 experiments showed that people with heart disease or diabetes who exercised but did not take commonly prescribed medication had the same outcomes as people who took medication instead.
- A study by the American College of Rheumatology found that patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis can improve their pain and physical function with regular exercise.
- A 13 year study by the University of Western Australia found that 150 minutes of exercise per week added 2 – 3 years to the lives of elderly men . They also had better cognitive function, less depression and less functional incapacity. (So they didn’t just live longer – but they also had better quality lives!)
- A sleep researcher at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, found that a 16 week exercise program can help insomniacs sleep more soundly (though the benefits take time to kick in).
- Results from a study at the Atlanta VA Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation and Emory University suggests that exercise may be able to slow the progression of retinal degenerative diseases.
I literally could make this list a few pages longer but I don’t want to bore you! There is no shortage of evidence that exercise is vital for a healthier life. If looking better isn’t enough for you to get moving, what would motivate you? A longer lifespan? Less cognitive decline as you age? Reduced risk of heart attack or diabetes? Better sleep? Less aches and pains? Preventing depression? All of these things are possible if you start today.
How much could your life be improved with just a tiny bit of exercise? I bet quite a bit!
Need some hand holding as you get started? I’m running a casual free exercise challenge that starts October 12, 2015. You should join in – it’s just a few minutes of activity per day for 30 days. I want to get people moving! It’s called Light A Fire Under Your Butt. See you there!