Sunshine, shorts, and swimsuits. It's that time of year and many of us are working to get our bodies back into tip-top shape (since we no longer have a puffy coat to hide those few extra pounds from winter!) While burning fat and building muscle tends to be the primary drive to exercise, it's helpful to remember some of the additional benefits of regular physical activity particularly if you're not yet seeing the types of results you want.
The next time you go for a jog or head to the gym, think about this list, then pat yourself on the back. You're doing a good thing.
1. Exercise Boosts Brainpower
Not only does exercise strengthen your muscles and tone your body, but it also helps improve mental function. Exercise increases serotonin levels in the brain, leading to improved mental clarity and keeping you sharper and more alert throughout the day. Get in shape and get smarter at the same time? Deal.
2. Exercise Melts Away Stress
If there's one thing my family and friends know about me, it's that I tend to stress over a lot of things. I'm working on it. Yet as much as it might stress me to think about exercising, studies show that getting those muscles pumping helps alleviate stress in every part of life. Exercise helps to keep depression at bay and elevates your mood, making you an overall happier and healthier person. I'll speak from experience on this one!
3. Exercise Helps Ward Off Disease
Research shows tremendous benefits from exercise when it comes to fighting off both short-term and long-term diseases. Risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis can be reduced or prevented with regular exercise. Even more common sicknesses can be avoided, and if you do catch them, you'll be able to overcome them quicker.
4. Exercise Lets You Eat More
This one is great. The hardest part of sticking to a diet is having to forgo that fresh, warm, and oh-so enticing chocolate chip cookie, or that irresistible slice of your favorite chocolate cake. While regular exercise doesn't give you an excuse to eat all the junk food you want, it can allow you to make a little exception now and then. Hey, the more calories you burn, the more you can eat. Makes sense, right?
5. Exercise Boosts Performance and Confidence
After a few weeks of consistent exercise, you may begin to feel more energetic, you might find your clothes fitting a little better, and you will begin to feel a greater sense of confidence. The fact that you're getting out and exercising regularly should make you feel good! It's simple: take care of your body, and your body will take care of you. Regular tasks will become easier, your mood will be lifted, and you'll feel more confident in both your physical appearance and abilities.
Having that perfectly toned body or losing 30 pounds right away shouldn't be the only goal of your exercise. Each day you get up and work out, your body reaps the rewards, and there are many more than meet the eye.
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