The Big Benefits of Exercise

Blog, Wellness

By: Madeleine Ortiz

It’s still dark outside, but the alarm clock is chiming. Press snooze and contemplate whether or not morning workouts are worth climbing out of the comfy bed for…. 

And the truth is that if you’re exercising in the hopes of burning calories for weight loss, the answer is probably no, your workouts aren’t worth it. Dr. Michael Lyon, weight loss specialist, says study after study has proven that exercise has no direct link to weight loss. In fact, Dr. Lyon tells us that your body will actually begin adapting to exercise over time – and you’ll start burning less calories for the same workout. But don’t pull the covers back over your head just yet! Exercise boasts tons of other wonderful health benefits- and Dr. Lyon enthusiastically declares exercise as one of the very best things you can do for a happier, healthier and longer life. Here are just a few of the reasons to get moving.

1) Mental Health

According to Dr. Victoria Sanchez, expert in sports medicine and nutrition, working your muscles improves mental health. People with depression often see improvement in mood when they add exercise to their daily routine and health psychologist Dr. Michael Vallis recommends exercise as a strategy to patients trying to cope  with stress and anxiety. Anytime we release physical tension, he says, we relax mental tension as well. Still need more proof that exercise is good for your mental health? Dr. Sanchez even reports physical activity being linked to reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. 

2) Physical and Metabolic Health

Exercise probably won’t help you lose weight, but it’s still great for your physical health. Consistent exercise, as little as 30 minutes a day, according to Dr. Sanchez, will lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It can also reduce your risk of liver disease and diabetes. Better still, Dr. Sanchez says it can slow the onset of other diseases – even cancer – and make recovery from the common cold to a major medical set back easier. 

3) More Energy

If you haven’t exercised in awhile because you feel too tired, Dr. Sanchez warns you might be caught in a “circle of fatigue.” When you exercise, the health of your cells improve, and in turn cell respiration increases. The more cell respiration, the more energy you have. When you stop working out, cell respiration decreases, causing tiredness which can often lead to skipping workouts. Breaking the circle of fatigue just requires you to get moving again. You can start small, proclaims Dr. Lyon, dance around to one song or take a short walk around the block after dinner. The more you move, the more energy you’ll have for longer workouts and everyday life.

4) More Willpower 

Exercise awakens the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Dr. Lyon points out that this is a very good thing because the prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that helps you feel in control. In fact, the more you move, the more you awaken this region. The more awake it is,  the more focused and in command you’ll feel. This usually leads to more productivity, less forgetfulness and better decision making – especially when it comes to food choices. That’s why the person you know who is always exercising is also the person who seems to have the easiest time saying no to sweet treats and other tempting, less nutritious foods. 

5) Mood Booster

Dr. Vallis and Dr. Lyon agree that one of the best things you can do to increase your happiness is exercise. Exercise leads to more confidence and improved body image. It can also help you feel more optimistic and more secure. All of this, says Dr. Sanchez, leads to an overall increased satisfaction with life. And that is definitely worth jumping out of bed for! 

The best part about all these benefits is that you can get them by doing any type of exercise. Dr. Sanchez recommends starting with an exercise you enjoy and then adding on and exploring different options as you become more confident. She says even if you’re injured, get creative and try to find ways to move. Even if it’s just your arms, even if it’s just ten minutes a day, “each minute of exercise improves your health.”

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