We all know that working out does wonders for the body, but rarely do we consider the benefits of fitness beyond the superficial. Sure, regular sweat sessions will help you lose your love handles and look hot in your size-two jeans, but gains also extend below the surface. Read on for the top ten benefits of staying in shape:
#10- Easier zzz’s
Though it may seem like common sense, studies linking regular exercise and improved sleep patterns are relatively recent. They’ve found that 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise, three to four days a week, will help you get your nightly eight with ease. But be sure to get moving in the morning or early afternoon, as evening exercise sessions may leave you feeling too energized to sleep.
#9- Longer life
Most people lose about 10% of their aerobic capacity each year after the age of 30, but regular exercise can actually reverse this process. Working out also improves skin elasticity, muscle tone and flexibility, and staves off many age-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.
#8- Stronger self
Loss of bone density, joint stiffness and muscle atrophy are all realities of getting older, but a regular gym regimen can slow or even prevent such problems. You’ve heard the saying, “Move it or lose it!”, well, make that your mantra and you’ll slow the hands of time.
#7- Super-human immune system
Back away from the Echinacea: If you work up a sweat, you won’t need it! Exercise is a powerful natural immune cell stimulator, and regular workouts, with an emphasis on cardio training, will keep you cold-free all year round. Just be careful not to overdo it at the gym; if you over-train, you’ll experience the opposite effect.
#6- Sharper mind
Several studies have shown that people who work out often have better memory, reaction time and concentration than their couch-potato counterparts. And we’re not talking gym-rats here: Walking for as little as 45 minutes, three times a week is enough to keep you sharp. Aerobic activity stimulates the middle frontal and superior parietal regions of the brain, which are the centres for attention and motivation to achieve goals.
#5- Increased confidence
Think about it: Do you feel better about yourself after an evening on the couch watching T.V. with Ben and Jerry, or after a lengthy jaunt on the treadmill? Exactly. Working out ups your strength, stamina and energy levels, which in turn helps improve your self-image. So choose the gym over the tube and you’ll boost your body as well as your mood!
#4- Energy and endurance
Ever been tempted to bypass the gym because you were “too tired” to work out? But then sucked it up, gone anyway and felt much more awake and energized afterward? People who are physically fit have more strength and stamina to make it through the day than do non-exercisers. In fact, energy levels often increase only a few short weeks after you start a regular regimen.
#3- Enhanced *ahem* performance
Physical endurance and muscle tone improve sexual function, and exercise jump-starts the sympathetic nervous system, which increases blood flow to the genital area. Hormone levels spike, sex drive, activity and satisfaction increase, and everybody’s happy.
#2- Less stress
Getting fit reduces stress and anxiety by lessening electrical activity in tense muscles, resulting in a cooler, calmer you. Your body also releases more endorphins for up to two hours after your gym session so you stay serene long after leaving the gym.
#1- Disease free is the way to be!
Though not a major motivator for most, the best reason to focus on fitness is that it reduces your risk of many serious and potentially deadly diseases. Regular exercise can help protect you against heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, colon cancer, breast cancer, stroke, heart attack and arthritis.
No matter what the driving force is behind your weekly workouts, just make sure you’re fittin’ ’em in. Aside from looking lean, you’ll sleep soundly, keep your cool, live longer and feel fantastic!!!