There’s more to exercise than dropping inches and slipping into skinny jeans. We all know working out can get you closer to a bangin’ bod, but being physically active has benefits beyond the obvious. We’re talking improved mental health, increased relaxation, and a better immune system. But that’s not all! Squeezing in a quick sweat sesh, regardless of your physical ability, offers a host of health benefits that’ll help you lead a happier, healthier life overall. Research shows that exercise is the best thing you can do for your brain.
Lace up those sneaks and check out these 5 incredible benefits of exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss (although an improved physique is definitely an incentive!)
1. Toned Muscles and Stronger Bones
Exercise keeps muscles strong and defined. Working out improves your bones, joints, and muscles. Regular physical activity strengthens bones, which slows the loss of bone density as you age. Working out consistently also helps prevent certain joint conditions, like arthritis, while building muscle mass and helping you maintain strength.
For a seriously toning workout that’ll hit all the key spots, try these 9 Exercises that Tone from Head to Toe.
If your objectives include sculpting your body into the figure of your dreams, check out 7 Exercises for Maximum Definition.
2. Improved Mental Health
Physical activity can promote the development of chemicals in the brain called growth factors. Growth factors create new brain cells and establish connections between brain cells. This enhances cognition and improves your ability to learn new things. When you’re trying to tone up, you exercise to get your muscles to grow. Likewise, you have to stress your brain cells through exercise in order to get them to grow. Exercise can help you look great and make you smarter.
Kick the brain-boosting up a notch by eating foods that are great for the mind! Check out Feed Your Brain: 5 Foods that Improve Mental Health
3. Better Sleep
Do you struggle to fall asleep, or have experienced one too many sleepless nights? Put down the melatonin and turn to exercise! Exercise behaves as an effective sleep treatment – and a drug free one at that! You don’t have to workout to the point of exhaustion in order to sleep more soundly. Granted, a tough workout will have you hitting the hay in no time, but even light exercise is enough to improve sleep quality. Getting your heart rate up on a regular basis strengthens your circadian rhythms and energizes you during the day, which naturally brings sleepiness at night. Lace up your sneakers now for a better snooze later!
For more sleep-inducing tricks, here are 9 Tips to Get Better Sleep.
4. Less Stress
Exercise allows you to sweat out your stress! Hitting the treadmill or going for a brisk walk will have you blowing off tension. How? Your brain releases a bunch of “happy” chemicals like serotonin and dopamine when you get your heart pumping and blood flowing. Exercise can improve connections between the nerve cells and ultimately sub in as a natural antidepressant.
Take it a step further with these edible mood-boosters: 8 Foods to Boost your Mood
5. Higher Energy Levels
It might sound counterintuitive, but when you’re feeling tired, a little exercise can give you a much-needed energy boost. Research shows that aerobic exercise enhances blood flow carrying oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissues. This helps your body produce more energy, which puts pep in your step as a result. Instead of depending on cat naps to cure your fatigue, hit the gym, go for a walk, or do something to get that blood flowing!
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