15 Benefits of Exercise That AREN'T Related to Losing Weight or Looking Good

A little over two years ago, I made a post about 1O reasons why you should exercise regularly. You can find the original post here. This post contains most of the content from that post plus more even more reasons!!! 

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It can get a tad bit annoying when I hear people talk about how they choose not participate in physical activity. There's a never-ending list of excuses: I don't need to lose weight, I don't have time, I don't want to look muscle-y, or they just don't think it's going to benefit them. 

Like seriously?! You think you don't need this in your life?! Well, I'm about to tell you why EVERYONE needs to be physically active. 

My first post ever was on the science, statistics, and facts of why exercise is important. That was a post packed with statistics, graphs, images and all that other science-y stuff. It's a great post to learn about the hardcore stats and look into how much health care is costing us because our nation is "unhealthy." 

The first post I did wanted to take a step back from the science and the statistics and scale that back to make it personal; letting you know how exercise may directly impact you. The first ten reasons can be found below with few added notes. 

10 Reasons to Exercise Regularly

1. Exercise can help you sleep. Slight disclaimer here: For those of you that want to try to get better sleep, try working out in the morning or early afternoon. Due to the chemical changes that happen in the body and the brain, working out in the evening may actually keep you awake at night. Everyone is different though, find the time that best fits your body and your schedule.

Sleep-Exercise-Study
Sleep-Exercise-Study

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2. Stress Relief. Exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there. What's better than a good kickboxing class or spending an hour to yourself in the gym when you're frustrated. Getting "in the zone" will help you get out of that stressed mindset. There's science behind it too, during exercise the brain produces endorphins, natural stress-fighters.

Since writing this 2 years ago, I can say that the stress relief aspect of exercise has been a personal favorite of mine in recent months. My boyfriend even pointed it out the me the other day saying, "I think you need to work out as much as you do to keep you sane." And I do believe that's true. Its something I enjoy and it's personal time away from all the other things I have going on. 

3. Endorphins. So, more about the natural stress relievers I mentioned in the last point. Long story short, your brain makes drugs when you exercise. They're legal, they're natural, and they make you feel good. Win-Win-Win! Endorphins along with other chemicals released into the brain during exercise, help us feel good. They can block the pain and discomfort some may feel during exercise, this is the cause behind a "runner's high." And not only is this process working on your brain during exercise, it continues after as well leaving you with a better overall mood.

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4. Improves posture. Good posture is directly related to strong muscles. Think of all those muscles in your core, back, neck, spine, etc., that have to hold you up all day. Help them out a little bit and strengthen them.

As I've learned in recent years, my core muscles suck. The deep ones below the abdominal muscles you can see with a six pack, and then the stabilizers of the hips are incredibly important. The way you exercise is going to impact how strong these muscles are and if they're functioning properly. Once you jump on the exercise train, make sure you get good instruction to make sure that the correct muscles are working and your deep stabilizer muscles are kicking in. 

5. More energy. Who doesn't want more energy?! That's a silly question. Exercise causes blood vessels to dilate, which allows more blood and oxygen to the muscles that are working. This process isn't only working while you exercise, but you'll also feel the effects afterward and have a boost of energy for rest of the day.

I'm not a morning person by any means but I'm getting there, and my morning workouts help a lot. In fact, I actually prefer a morning workout! It's a great way to start my day and I do in fact feel more energized and just have a better feeling overall.
This energy boost effect would also be the reason why some people may not wish to exercise too close to bedtime. 

6. Burn more calories at rest. That's right, someone that leads a boring life sitting in a chair all day is burning fewer calories than the regular exerciser that also happens to be sitting in a chair. Well, how does that work?! The key is resistance/strength training. This type of training is how we increase muscle mass and muscle is a good thing, not just for flexing. At rest, muscle burns more calories than fat due to a difference in the metabolism of the substance. More muscle = higher metabolism!

So technically this point doesn't meet the requirements of the title; I'll give you an extra additional fact to replace this one. BUT still cool to know!

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7. Stay focused. The brain has an easier time staying focused in those who exercise regularly. Why is this? Blood flow is improved with exercise. Blood carries oxygen. The brain needs oxygen to function. A sufficient oxygen supply is allowing the brain to have better function. Again with the chemicals, hormones are optimized with regular exercise, which also helps the brain function.

I actually remember professors telling me to exercise before a test or presentation to increase focus. I also find that I like to exercise before I sit down to a day of studying and homework. Just a personal preference, but it may have some merit to it. 

8. You'll live longer. Exercise, the fountain of youth! So yeah, exercise is good for the body. There are countless medical issues and diseases that can be prevented or have a decreased risk with regular exercise. For a list of those, refer to this post. I don't know about you, but I'm loving this life, I'll take a few extra years with a high quality of life.

I'll be expanding on a few specific conditions in the additonal reasons I give. 

9. You'll save money. Sure, now you may be paying for a gym membership, a group fitness class fee, or home gym equipment, BUT not only are you getting all the benefits I'm listing, you're saving yourself from those diseases and health conditions I keep mentioning and therefore lowering your future health costs.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, states that in 2015 we spent $3.2 trillion (yeah, with a T) in health expenditures. Thats almost $10.000 per person. 

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10. Improves self-confidence and self-esteem. This is an easy one. You're gonna feel a heck of a lot better if you are active, productive, and improving yourself and your health compared to sitting around, watching those around you improve.

If you would rather be sleepless, stressed and unhappy with poor posture, no energy, sitting around and not burning calories, while you're unable to stay focused, living a short life, paying loads of medical bills, and lack any self-confidence or self-esteem, don't exercise....EVER. ;)

Okay, so that was the main content of the first post now we have a few more to talk about. 

6 More Benefits of Exercise

  1. Avoid broken bones and osteoporosis.  Weight-bearing exercise puts a necessary stress on your bones that make them stronger. The strain that is placed on the body is actually necessary for the formation of new bone. This new bone adds to and increases the strength of what is already there increasing something called bone mineral density. The denser your bone is, the harder it will be to break and as you inevitably lose bone density as you age, you'll have more to spare or lose less based on how much you build up and if you're still active. 
  2. Decrease blood glucose (sugar) and further prevent diabetes. If you've read some of my past posts and follow me on social media, you've probably picked up on the fact that I am not a huge fan of sugar. I mean, I have a sweet tooth, don't get me wrong, but the stuff is so bad for you. The extravagant increase in diabetes in recent years is one of the reasons why we need to steer clear. To better explain how this works, I have to give you a little background on the science. Insulin is the hormone that lets sugar into your cells. In diabetes, there is an issue with insulin that causes the body's cells to not respond as well or there just isn't enough insulin floating around to take care of all the sugar. This can be due to a number of factors that just mess up the whole process. When you exercise, your cells actually become more sensitive to insulin, allowing it to do its job better, for up to 24 hours. That reduces the amount of sugar floating in the bloodstream and you'll avoid all of the damage and junk that comes along with high blood sugar. 
  3. Exercise can prevent or improve heart disease.  Living a sedentary and inactive lifestyle is one of the top five risk factors for heart disease. The stimulation of nitric oxide can keep the blood vessels open. Increased exercise can also increase cardiac output, meaning the heart is better at pumping blood.
  4. Reduce risk of cancer. Anyone that has had or knows someone that has had cancer knows that it sucks. There is evidence to show that physically active people are less likely to get certain types of cancer. If you're a cancer survivor, there is evidence of benefit for you too!
  5. Improve the quality of life.  I'm not sure how many of you are looking 20-50 years down the road, but I am! Exercising regularly and having an increased amount of muscle to support you as you grow older will make you risk for falls or accidents less. Plus it makes it more likely that you'll be able to maintain your lifestyle well into your older years; think being able to travel, interacting with family, and staying healthy. It becomes harder to gain and maintain muscle mass as we age, so start now!
  6. May help with skin health. Exercise... and your skin?! Yeah, I was kind of surprised by this too, but it really does make sense. Oxidative stress to your body can damage your skin. Moderate activity levels actually help your body produce natural antioxidants which combat this oxidative stress. Essentially, it will delay the appearance of skin aging. 

Okay, there you have it, 15 benefits of exercise that aren't related to weight loss or looking good. All of these may not apply to you, but there are amazing reasons to exercise and it is totally worth it to find time in your day. 

At first, any improvement in physical activity is good. Move at your own pace, and no matter what you're doing, or how slow you have to go, know you're helping your body and becoming a healthier you.