8 Benefits of Exercise Beyond Weight Loss
We all know that exercise is good for us. And that it will help us maintain a healthy weight. We know we should exercise daily. And that we should be doing aerobics. And pilates. Weight bearing exercises. Yoga, zumba, swimming, kegel exercises, cycling
and don’t forget a brisk walk in the fresh air.
But how do we actually get motivated when our schedule is already jam-packed
with a full day of work, laundry, shopping, cooking, meaningful time, family time and an occasional vacuum cleaner run? And what about down time? How do we get inspired to exercise?
Shifting in our thinking and prioritization about exercise often begins when we realize the huge benefits of exercise, beyond weight loss or management.
- Better sleep: Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may help promote falling asleep and staying asleep longer. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) states that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week (that’s just over 20 minutes per day). The most effective types of exercise to improve sleep according to the NSF are aerobics, strength training and yoga.
- Improved mood: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research states that “people who exercise are less likely to suffer from depression, significant anxiety and other mental health complications compared to inactive individuals.” Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood and improve self-esteem.
- Improves Memory: In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
- Increased Sex Drive: A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior revealed that men participating in exercise (60 minutes per day, three to five days a week, with a peak sustained intensity of 75 percent to 80 percent) developed “significantly greater sexual enhancements ”. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that intense, short-duration exercise (20 minutes with a target heart rate of 70 percent) significantly enhances the physiological sexual arousal of women.
- Increases Bone Density: According to LiveStrong, bone is formed after a stress (mechanical load) has been placed upon it, such as the extra weight applied when performing the squat exercise or when running, has been applied to the bone, bone cells migrate to the stressed area, and begin the process of laying down new bone. The bone cells manufacture and secrete proteins, mainly collagen, which is deposited in between the bone cells to increase bone strength in that area. These proteins eventually mineralize, giving bone its characteristic rigidity.
- Increases energy: Feeling sluggish? Skip the coffee. Regular physical activity increases the blood flow to your body and improves your cardiovascular health and fitness. This will allow more blood and oxygen to get to the body which in turn boosts your energy levels.
- Reduce risk of chronic disease: According to the Government of Canada, regular exercise is one of the 8 factors shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease. For example, exercise improves insulin sensitivity, while decreasing blood pressure and blood fat levels. In contrast, a lack of regular exercise can lead to significant increases in belly fat, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Improve Your Complexion: According to WebMD, “by increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them vital. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin. Blood flow also helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells helping to flush cellular debris out of the system. Think of it as ‘cleansing your skin from the inside’”.