12 Ways that Exercise will Transform Your Life

For the last couple of weeks, you’ve eaten more desserts than you care to admit and drank enough to survive the rest of winter. So, you set yourself some goals, let’s call them “resolutions,” to lose weight and keep it off this year.

To help you reach your goals, here are the top 12 reasons to exercise – one for every month of this year.

1. Control your weight.

While dieting plays a key role in maintaining or losing weight, so does exercise. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. More if your goal is losing weight. Many smartphones these days comes with a “Health” app or something similar to help you track your daily movement and other apps like “MyFitness Pal” to help you record your caloric intake.

2. Reduce your risk of disease.

By working out at least 150 minutes every week, you lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndromes (like high blood pressure), and some types of cancer, specifically colon, breast, endometrial and lung cancer.

3. Strengthen your body.

Building muscle mass and strengthening muscles can help slow the loss of bone density and ensure you can do all of your daily activities, even as you continue to age. Additionally, your muscles protect your bones and joints.

4. Boost your energy.

By increasing your muscle strength and endurance through exercise, you’ll get more oxygen to your tissues and help increase your cardiovascular system’s efficiency. Even increasing your exercise during the day (say, going for a quick walk on your 15 minute lunch break) can increase your productivity and energy.

5. Put yourself in a better mood.

By releasing endorphins, dopamine, and endocannabinoids, exercise can boost not just your self-esteem, but create a feeling of euphoria (also known as “runner’s high”) and decrease your perception of pain. It is recommended that you exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, at least three times a week.

6. Reduce your stress and anxiety.

This same reaction that boosts your mood during and after exercise also leads to a decrease in anxiety and depression. Exercise helps lower inflammation and increases your body temperature, which can be calming.

7. Get better sleep.

Not to mention, will help you get to sleep better by normalizing your circadian rhythm. Exercising five to six hours before your bedtime increases your body’s core temperature. When your core temp starts to fall a few hours later, it signals your body that it’s time to sleep. Not to mention, you’ll get better, deeper sleep cycles after exercise.

8. Sharpen your mental performance.

Exercise can increase the production of cells in your hippocampus, which is the part of your brain related to memory and learning. Even better, your creativity is boosted for two hours post-workout, so get moving to get those creative juices flowing.

9. Enjoy the outdoors!

Other than improving your vitamin D intake and your circadian rhythm through sunlight exposure, just being outside helps boost serotonin, increase your attention span by giving your brain a break from over stimulation, and decrease your chances of nearsightedness caused by artificial lighting and staring at a computer screen.

10. Improve your sex life.

The increase in energy from regular exercise will have you feeling and looking better, which not only helps mentally, but also, according to the Mayo Clinic, can lead to an increased libido for both men and women.

11. Look better and feel better.

This goes almost without saying, but exercise is a great way to trim your waistline and find a new activity that you’re good at and (possibly) passionate about, which leads to looking better and increasing your self-esteem.

12. Live a longer, healthier life.

Other than reducing your risk of dying early by preventing heart disease and cancer, research has shown that people who are active for about 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early. Not only that, but as you reach middle-aged or older, exercise can help with daily activities by strengthening muscles and balance, which helps with daily activities and preventing falls.

Hopefully, thinking about all these benefits every time you don’t feel like working out, will help motivate you to do so. A healthier you is the first step to a healthier world.

Post by Barbara Lee.

Barbara is a world traveler who is passionate about sustainable food systems, responsible consumerism, and holistic living. Her professional background and interests include writing, cooking, non-profit work, and eco-conservation.