health

6 reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with 'dropping a dress size'.

Imagine if I told you that I knew about something that would improve your confidence, strengthen your heart, strengthen your bones, prevent sickness, improve oxygen supply, improve balance and co-ordination, boost your productivity, reduce stress, improve your mental health and lift your mood.

Imagine if that ‘something’ didn’t need to cost you much money, or take up much time. Imagine if it was easy to access, and available to everyone, regardless of age or gender or demographic.

You’d want to know about it, wouldn’t you? You’d want to bring it into your life, just like you brought in green smoothies and multivitamins and fish oil and kale.

The thing is – you know about it already. It’s exercise. You know – that thing we’re all supposed to be doing, but spend a whole lot of our lives avoiding.

Exercise has a million benefits that we’re already aware of, and probably some that are still yet to be discovered. We all know how good it makes us feel. And yet we’ve gotten to a point where we never really truly consider those benefits. We only ever really think about one reason to exercise: weight loss.

It’s not particularly surprising, especially considering we’re living a life that means we’re constantly bombarded by new diets and weight loss products and skinny celebrities and The Biggest Loser. But it’s also what’s making us disillusioned with work-outs. It’s what makes us drag our feet to the gym, or struggle to get up in the morning. It’s what makes us hate the number on the scales, and hate it even more when we don’t seem to be losing any kilos, despite our efforts on the treadmill or the weights machines.

Let’s get back to thinking less about the centimetres around our waist, and more about how good our bodies feel when we’re moving them. Let’s try to lose the focus on getting skinny, and refocus to feeling amazing.

Here are six reasons to exercise that you might never have given much thought to. Enjoy:

1. It will make you happier.

Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress and depression as well as making people generally happier. This, of course, is all thanks to endorphins – hormones generally associated with peace, calm and stress relief. Oh, and it’s good for self esteem and confidence, too – think about how great you feel when you’re feeling toned after a few weeks of workouts.

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2. It’s good for your brain.

Research has proved that exercise significantly improves the cognitive functioning of the brain; it sharpens your memory, as well as your spatial awareness, reaction times, quantitative skills and even executive functioning.

3. It’s good for your body.

Yes, you might lose some weight if you exercise often. But keeping active also means that your high-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) is boosted significantly, and unhealthy triglycerides are decreased. This can only mean good things for your blood pressure, and also decreases your chances of heart disease, strokes, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and arthritis. Additionally, staying active reduces your chances of falls, and means that if you do fall, you’re less likely to be injured.

4. It gives you more energy.

It’s a misconception that exercise will make you more tired. In fact, exercise means that oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your tissues, which improves strength, boosts endurance and makes everything in your body work better. And when that happens? You have more energy to go about your day-to-day life. Don’t believe me? Start going for runs in the morning and then see how you feel during your work day. It’ll be good. Promise.

5. It’s good for your skin.

For two reasons. Firstly – exercise means that your skin produces more of the oils that make it look healthy. Secondly, it means you sweat more, which helps your body get rid of evil pimple-making toxins. That said, it’s important to cleanse the skin right after you work out so your pores don’t get clogged. And don’t wear make-up…

6. It makes life more fun.

Because exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Think about the smiles you have during a Zumba class, or the laughs you have with a friend during a jog together. Think about how great you feel when you sign up for a run and you finish those 5km and surprise yourself with the time. Think about how beautiful the ocean is during those morning swims. How peaceful the night is during those nighttime runs. Life is goooooood.

Why do you exercise?