Better Than Weight Loss | 10 More Important Reasons To Exercise
10 life-changing benefits of exercise I learned from my weight loss journey and the latest science.
10 Benefits Of Exercise Beyond Weight Loss
Most people see exercise as simply a form of weight loss or building bigger muscles. However, this only scratches the surface into the benefits of exercise.
So, here are 10 more important reasons to exercise that will make the greatest impact on your life and long-term mental and physical health.
1. Exercise Keeps Your Brain Young
One of the biggest concerns with aging is your brain slowing down and shrivelling up. Luckily, exercise slows down this process and can even reverse the damage that has already occurred! Here’s how it works.
As you age, two things naturally contribute to the aging of your brain.
- The level of oxygen sent to your brain naturally declines.
- The rate at which your neurons die speeds up.
However, by exercising regularly, you directly increase the amount of blood and oxygen delivered to the brain while also minimizing the rate at which neurons die off by stimulating them through movement.
So, not only does regular exercise help preserve and slow down the natural aging of the brain. If you start soon enough, it can also prevent aging by increasing the rate your brain generates new neurons overall. Allowing you to stockpile extra for the future…
2. Exercise Boosts Mood, Motivation and Focus
Exercise helps boost mood, motivation, focus and even combat depression! This works as exercise stimulates and balances all the same neurotransmitters (a fancy word for brain chemicals) targeted by antidepressants, including:
Wakes up the brain and improves feelings of self-esteem.
Improves overall mood, enhances focus and boosts your sense of motivation. In addition, regular exercise helps increase the overall effects of dopamine even when you’re not exercising!
Important for mood, impulse control, and self-esteem. Serotonin also helps you become more resilient towards stress by decreasing the effects of cortisol, another substance released during the stress response.
It Only Takes 10 Minutes!
Fortunately, even just 10 minutes of exercise has been shown to get these neurotransmitters pumping through your body. However, if you’re new to exercise it takes time for your brain to adapt and maintain these joyful chemicals. So the more consistent you are, the more you can stabilize the feelings of bliss and zen on a daily basis! Think of it as strengthening your mood muscles…
3. Exercise Reduces Injury and Strengthens Bones
When it comes to living a long, happy and healthy life, the ability to move your body and avoid getting injured in the process is absolutely critical. And in order to do so, one of the key factors here to address is muscle!
You may have heard of osteoporosis, where your bones weaken and leave you one trip away from a broken hip. However, not so commonly heard of is what often leads to osteoporosis. Osteopenia! Where your muscles degenerate through natural aging and lack of use over time. Leaving your bones less protected and overall weakened.
In order to prevent osteopenia from happening, have no fear! You don’t need to take up body building. But you do want to build and maintain a solid base of muscle as early as possible. This will ensure you preserve the strength of your bones and reduce all forms of unnecessary injury as you age.
4. Exercise Improves Your Body’s Ability to Detox
Put that lemon water away! As you are about to learn how exercise directly activates the body’s three natural detox pathways. Let’s look at each one now.
1. The Skin
As sweating directly eliminates toxins from the body.
2. The Lungs
As heavy breathing stimulates deep exhalations of toxins and gases from the body for release.
3. The Body’s Natural Elimination Systems
Exercise also helps activate the body’s main elimination systems such as the liver, kidneys, and bowels. This is why a nice gentle walk may be just the thing you need to get things moving now and then…
Helping Your Body Naturally Detox
Our body is designed to naturally detox through these three main pathways. However, if you fail to exercise regularly, you are leaving all the heavy cleaning to your liver. And it’s got enough work to do already! Including balancing your hormones, which is another area of detox for later…
5. Exercise Boosts Your Ability To Learn
Did you know that your ability to learn is directly affected by physical movement? Here’s a survival analogy to help explain how this works. . .
As we evolved, having to frequently run or possibly fight for survival (both great workouts by the way!) Our brains wisely decided to release chemicals during these physical activities to help us remember how to avoid these possibly deadly situations in the future.
Luckily, in this day and age, we can safely release all these chemicals by simply working out in the comfort and safety of our very own homes. And speaking of substances released in the brain, let’s take a look at one of the most powerful ones triggered by exercise that helps boost your ability to learn.
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)
When BDNF is released and makes contact with your neurons, it charges them up like a magnet! Helping them receive and retain new information.
In addition to strengthening your ability to receive new information, BDNF also helps to grow more receptors on your neurons. Allowing them to accept and receive more of that new information even faster. WOW!
6. Exercise Reduces Anxiety
1. The Mental Game, Gaining Control and Calmness
Feeling tense, shortness of breath, a racing heart and sweating are all symptoms of an oncoming anxiety attack. And for those who suffer from anxiety, these symptoms can be alarming as they often come with a complete lack of control.
However, by exercising you are now self-inflicting the exact same symptoms that mimic an oncoming attack. But this time, YOU, are in complete control of when they appear and disappear. Over time, this has been effective in helping those who suffer from anxiety gain a sense of control and calmness. Knowing that these symptoms don’t always lead to an uncontrollable panic!
2. The Physiology Of How Exercise Reduces Anxiety
When it comes to the physiological reasons for how moving your body can reduce anxiety. It really comes down to two key factors.
- Exercise helps lower the resting tension of muscles throughout your body. And when the body is relaxed, your brain understands this as, no worries, Hakuna Matata! All is good.
- Exercise releases a variety of calming chemicals in your body, including Serotonin, GABA, and ANP. See how these work below.
Calming Brain Chemicals Released Through Exercise
- Serotonin: helps calm us down and enhance our sense of safety.
- GABA: helps stop the onset of anxiety and even turn it off once triggered. Providing you more resilience to turn things around or avoid stress altogether!
- ANP: lowers the heart rate and decreases the overall intensity of the stress response. Interestingly, during pregnancy, women’s ANP levels triple! This helps protect the baby’s developing brain from the negative effects of stress and anxiety. Cool hey!?
7. Exercise Improves Immune Function and Balance
Exercise improves immune function by boosting the production of antibodies and immune cells in your body. Which together, help attack nasty incoming bacteria, infections, and even the development of disease!
Another immune beneficial substance produced by exercise is opioids. And when produced on a regular basis will help calm down chronic inflammation and symptoms linked or leading to autoimmunity.
How Opioids Support Immune Balance
Within your immune system, you have various types of immune cells. When in balance, all is well. However, when out of balance, things can get pretty messed up in there!
However, opioids help to correct this imbalance by increasing production of what are known as T-Regulatory Cells, which help regain balance and set things straight!
8. Exercise Reduces Stress
Now, in case you’re thinking, wait a minute, doesn’t exercise put stress on the body? How can this brutal daily sweat-fest possibly reduce my stress load? Ok, ok, calm down and allow me to explain…
Yes, exercise does put stress on the body, but when done correctly, stress from exercise is JUST enough to challenge your body, not destroy it! And over time, regular exercise helps to build up your cells to become stronger and more resilient to other unavoidable stressors in life.
The Stress Response and Exercise
Keep in mind, when your body enters a stressed or otherwise known as “fight or flight” state. Everything that happens next inside your body is to prepare you to move, and move quickly!
The good news is, that by maintaining a regular exercise routine, you can help better prepare the body to calm down and clear up the inner chaos of stress.
How Exercise Helps Minimize The Stress Response
- Exercise helps re-balance the several powerful hormones released during the activation of your stress response.
- Exercise helps your body generate more receptors to soak up and properly store the excess energy released during stressful episodes. The energy your body thinks you need to run and escape…
- And finally, exercise helps your body quickly sort out the many powerful neurochemicals that were fired off to put your brain into a state of alert.
9. Exercise Strengthens Your Heart & Cholesterol
By now, it’s no secret that exercise is considered a heart-healthy activity. But why is this?
Exercise Help Strengthen The Muscles Of The Heart
As the heart’s main role is to pump blood throughout the body, the stronger the muscles of the heart are, the more you can improve the ability of the heart to do so effectively. And in case you haven’t guessed by now, regular exercise strengthens the muscles of the heart.
Exercise Helps Strengthen and Repair Blood Vessels
Exercise also stimulates production of various growth factors that ultimately generate what are known as “endothelial cells.” The same type of cell the inner lining of blood vessels are made from.
This is important as when these cells are generated they can be used by the body to create new blood vessels or even repair damaged ones. Creating more pathways for blood to flow and boost circulation and avoid blockages or even future heart attacks.
How Exercise Helps Cholesterol Balance and Strength
When it comes to cholesterol, you may have heard that it’s better to have more HDL or high-density cholesterol than LDL, low-density cholesterol. Why is this?
Well, the short and sweet version is LDL particles have greater potential to break down and spill their contents within your arteries. When this happens too frequently, the immune cells can’t clean up all the mess. Leaving the contents to oxidize and turn into a hard and nasty plaque.
However, during exercise, your body produces an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase. Which helps your body produce more HDL particles compared to LDL. Creating a better balance of stronger cholesterol within your body.
10. Exercise Helps Maintain Healthy Metabolism and Blood Sugar Levels
Exercise builds muscle, and muscle provides us with much more abilities than carrying the groceries. It actually helps us digest them… Well sort of.
1. More Muscle Helps To Boost Metabolism
The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns naturally throughout the day in order to feed and maintain them.
2. More Muscle Helps To Balance Blood Sugar Levels
When you eat more sugary or starchy foods than you should. Your body gets a surge of glucose (sugar within the blood) released to fuel your muscles for immediate energy.
However, if you don’t use this energy right away, the body is left to either store it as fat, or within your muscle tissue for later use. And the more muscle you have, the more sugar can be absorbed to help keep your waistline and blood sugar levels in check!
In addition, too much excess sugar in your bloodstream (glucose) can lead to premature aging, insulin resistance and even diseases such as diabetes.
Got your dumbbells nearby?
How To Easily Begin a New Exercise Habit, NOW!
After reading the many ways in which exercise will improve your overall health and wellness. I figured it’s probably a good idea to share the easiest way you can immediately experience all the benefits of exercise yourself.
As, exercise has completely transformed my life for the better. I truly wish for you to also improve your health and happiness just as I had many years ago through unfortunately, confusion and frustration.
This is why I have created the 10 minute beginner, no equipment, strength-building workout routine. Consisting of a workout for every day of the week that only takes 10 minutes of your time. I hope you enjoy it!
Learn More About Fitness and Nutrition
I hope you enjoyed reading these 10 Health Benefits of Exercise, Beyond Weight Loss. If you are in the mood for sharing I would love to hear about your personal favorite benefits experienced from exercise. To do so, please leave a comment on this video on YouTube.
For those of you who wish to learn more about the science of exercise and the brain. I highly encourage you to read the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey. As it provides much more detailed information on this very subject.