There are many different habits you can implement to improve your life. What about exercise, what benefits can you expect?
Exercise is increasing your activity levels to sustain or improve health. Moving at a higher intensity sets a wide variety of helpful internal processes in motion.
Some simple of exercise include running, swimming, walking, lifting weights, yoga, intense stretching,…
Do keep in mind that exercise can also cause injuries. Some habits that help you avoid injuries include using the right exercise technique and not over-pushing your boundaries.
Some people question how exercise can be but adding workout sessions to your routine can offer you some of the following amazing benefits.
1. Stronger muscles
Some types of exercise will help more with this but generally exercise will help you build and preserve muscle better than sitting still. Extra muscle is not only beneficial for your health in many ways but it is also considered to be visually appealing.
What muscles you will work with exercise depends a lot on the specific workouts you do. Generally speaking, you can find multiple exercises for each muscle in your body.
If you are serious about building muscle you do generally want to choose strength training exercises over more cardio and balance focused exercises. Strength training involves lifting weights or using your own bodyweight to preserve or build muscle.
2. Stronger immune system
Your immune system is a collection of biological processes that protects you from diseases.
You do have to keep in mind that at some point working out can turn into overtraining which can weaken immune function.
3. Can help with achieving a healthy weight
Being overweight can lead to a lot of negative side effects you want to avoid. One way to get to and sustain a healthy weight is by implementing more exercise.
Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.
One way to try to make this happen is by exercising. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Basically all exercise requires more energy than most of your usual daily activities.
Another way exercise, mainly strength training workouts, helps you lose weight is by increasing your muscle mass which in turn helps with burning more energy with everything you do.
Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.
4. Improved mood
Most people are not always completely aware of it but the physical health of the human body has a big influence on the mood and thoughts of the individual.
Exercise doesn’t just help with this by improving general health. There are inevitably many different reasons involved but one reason why exercise benefits mental health is that it promotes the release of endorphins, “feel-good” hormones (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Besides the actual physiological changes exercise will cause, you will likely also have positive feelings about having done something challenging that’s good for you.
5. Improved cardiovascular health
Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.
When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.
Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. Even strength training and balance exercises will make your heart beat faster and thus helps you strengthen your cardiovascular system. This in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (12, 13, 14, 15, 16).
Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity exercise and build up from there.
6. You can exercise almost anywhere
A mental block some people have when it comes to exercise is that they think you to be in a specific location, or use specific equipment that you generally don’t have at home.
In their head, they are already driving, cycling, or walking somewhere for a while. Even if they exercised twice a week and going to their workout took 10 minutes to get there and 10 minutes to go back. That would 40 minutes less free time per week.
However, this is not necessarily the case. There are plenty of exercises you can do as good as anywhere. Some examples include walking, jumping rope, pushups,…
7. You can do it for free
Another mental block people have when it comes to exercising is thinking that you need to a big budget to do it.
It is true that some exercises require inexpensive equipment starting at a jumping rope to at-home workout machines of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Even the investment required for gym subscriptions adds up after a while.
Money put into improving your health is generally a great investment but sometimes you can get the same effects with less. There are plenty of exercises that you can do for free. Some examples include walking, pushups, squats,… This can be a great benefit depending on your personal situation.
8. Improved cognitive function
Another benefit of exercise is that it can help you improve your cognitive function in a few ways. First of all, it can help with the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (17).
Another way working out benefits cognitive function is by improving brain plasticity (18, 19, 20). Better brain plasticity basically means that you are able to learn things faster, see the connection between things faster, and remember things better.
That means that adding an exercise session to your routine can benefit you by improving areas like your academic performance, job performance, and much more.
9. Exercise doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time
When you hear the word exercise thoughts of people running for hours on end on a treadmill may appear. It doesn’t have to be like this, a good exercise session can be done in a relatively short amount of time.
Especially if you choose workouts like high-intensity exercise and strength training you can get in a very good workout in for example 20 minutes.
Even a short amount of less intense exercise like walking can already be a big improvement over doing nothing.
10. Can improve flexibility
Flexibility is the range of motion specific joints or joint groups can do.
By exercising, especially specific exercises like yoga you are able to increase this range. This in turn can help reduce the likelihood of accidents, especially falls, and improve exercise performance.
11. Improved bone density
This is helpful for avoiding broken bones. Depending on your age you may not be that worried about something like this right now. However, exercising right now can help you avoid broken bones in 40 years. The things you do today have an impact on the future.
The way many parts of your body work is that by challenging them you set in motion processes that strengthen these body parts. The same goes for your bones, by putting pressure on them you make them stronger in the long-term.
Generally, exercise on land with a lot of jumping and strength training exercises are the best for improving bone density. Next you have exercises that put less pressure on your bones like walking. Lastly you have exercise in the water like swimming which will still benefit bone density but likely not as much as the other categories.
12. Lowers LDL
LDL, also known as low-density lipoproteins, is considered to be “bad” cholesterol since there are negative side effects associated with having high levels of LDL in your blood.
13. Healthier lungs
To move around your body needs oxygen, the more intensely the more oxygen. Your body absorbs oxygen from the air through your lungs.
By using your lungs more, thanks to exercise, you can improve how well they work (31, 32, 33, 34, 35). Some exercises will be not as effective for engaging your lungs. However, generally all workouts will increase the amount of oxygen your body uses compared to sitting on a chair doing nothing.
Improving how well your lungs function leads to benefits like improved exercise performance and getting tired slower.
14. Slows down aging
Most people think of age as the number of days, months, and years that have passed since the day they were born, this is usually referred to as their chronological age. There are also many other ways to measure “age” based on physiological factors (36).
Exercise obviously won’t have an influence on the number of days that have passed since you were born. However, physical activity can slow down the aging in terms of how fast other measurement methods progress (37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42).
In general these other age measurements are more accurate methods than chronological age for assessing risk on age-related diseases. Slowing these down can be a huge benefit for your health.
15. Helps against type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that involves consequences like high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and lack of insulin. These things in turn can have really bad consequences so type 2 diabetes is definitely something you want to avoid.
16. Improves sleep
Good quality and duration sleep are extremely important for your physical health and cognitive function. Unfortunately, many people can do a lot better with both quality and duration.
You do want to keep in mind that exercising too close to bed time can have the reverse effect and mess with your sleep. Make sure you give your body time enough time to calm down after a workout. For most people this comes down to avoiding exercises at least an hour or two before going to sleep.
17. Regulates blood pressure
Your blood pressure is how much pressure the blood circulating in your blood vessels pushes against the walls of these vessels. This measurement is a popular way to determine how healthy your heart is.
Another benefit of exercise is that it can help you regulate blood pressure (51, 52, 53). This happens because of the influence of a variety of consequences you get from exercise including a stronger heart, less stress, expected weight loss, and more.
18. Improves coordination
Although with some exercises more than others, you will likely challenge your balance and coordination skills with exercise. By doing this frequently you get better at it like with most skills. Many people forget to implement balance training into their workout routine but it is a helpful fitness component.
The benefits of improved coordination don’t just show up in other technical sports. Daily activities as simple as walking the stairs require coordination.
While inevitably some workouts are better for some of these benefits than others, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding exercise to your routine.
One thing you need to remember is that exercise can also cause injuries. Make sure you use the right technique and don’t overpush your boundaries. If you have not exercised in a while it may be smart to start out with light workouts and build up from there.
Also keep in mind that consistency is a big factor for a workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. There are plenty of exercises to consider that can offer you these benefits. You may as well pick one you like doing.