The single biggest reason people don't exercise is a lack of motivation. Many people are actually motivated to begin exercising, they're just not motivated to continue exercising. This is particularly common every January, as the majority of people who begin a New Year's resolution to exercise don't make it past Valentine's Day.
If you're someone who has a long-term goal to
make exercise a lifetime habit, I suggest you change your perspective on exercise. Here are fifteen reasons to make exercise a permanent fixture in your life:
Increases Happiness and Improves Your Self-Esteem
Research by Carol Ewing Garber, professor of movement sciences at Columbia University, shows that people who regularly exercise have better moods. Exercise is known to release endorphins and enhances the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, which makes exercisers feel good. This is also thought to cause the well-known “runner’s high.”
Helps with Depression
One study touts exercise as an equally effective treatment course as an antidepressant for those suffering from depression.
Improves Your Sex Life
The Journal of the American Medical Association cited research by scientists in 1999 that sexual dysfunction is more likely with those who have poor physical and emotional health. The New England Research Institute found that regular, vigorous exercise can lower the risk of impotence for men. The improved blood flow and circulation, as well as increased stamina and endurance from exercise could be a reason for this finding.
Improves Income Levels
A 2012 study in the Journal of Labor Research reported that frequent exercisers earned 9% more than non-exercisers. Exercise was believed to be responsible for higher energy levels, an improved mood and enhanced mental abilities on the job.
Keeps Your Mind Sharp
Being active helps you keep your mental sharpness into your late adult years. UK researchers looked at the brain structure of adults in their 70s, and those who were more active had bigger brains three years later, than sedentary participants.
Similarly, a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that exercise has a protective effect on the brain, and can improve memory and cognitive abilities. There was also evidence that exercise could delay dementia and possibly slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety Levels
Increased heart rates and rises in blood pressure are a normal bodily reaction in times of stress. Cases of chronic stress can keep these hormone levels elevated, which can be dangerous. Exercise helps decrease your stress response and makes you less reactive to them in the first place.
Helps People with Chronic Pain
The last thing anyone experiencing frequent amounts of pain feels like doing is exercising, but it may be helpful in alleviating some of your pain. I know first-hand the importance of exercising with respect to pain management. I’ve had low back pain since my high school football days and whenever I miss a few workouts on a given week, the pain gets worse. Even light exercise sessions, such as brisk walking, biking or using an elliptical machine can help improve mood, blood circulation and energy levels.
If you have a child struggling with ADHD, signing them up for a team sport may be the ticket to easing symptoms. Why? Aerobic exercise may help boost brain structure and function, helping to treat behavioral problems, suggests a review in Current Psychiatry Reports. Adults also benefit from exercise by improving the brains’ executive function, which is the set of skills required to plan, organize and remember details.
Helps You Look and Feel Younger
Research suggests that exercise can actually slow down the aging process by lengthening the telomeres, which are the markers for cellular age, and associated with the physical aging process. Exercise induced weight loss through burning those extra calories can also make people look and feel younger.
Strengthens Your Heart
In a meta-analysis in 2013 published in BMJ, researchers discovered that exercise performed as effective (or better) than many drugs that treat heart failure and stroke, and prevent heart disease.
A 2011 Swedish study found that people who exercised 40 minutes three times a week experienced fewer migraines, and exercise worked as well as prescription migraine drugs and relaxation exercises.
Helps You Sleep Better
Researchers have determined that regular exercisers sleep better, as exercise increased total sleep time and delayed the onset of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep by 10 minutes, increased slow-wave sleep (SWS) and reduced REM sleep by two to five minutes.
Lengthens Your Life
Want to live three years longer? Working out for just 15 minutes a day was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of death from any cause compared to those who were inactive, suggests Taiwanese research.
Wards off Diabetes
According to a position paper by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association, the combination of exercising and losing a modest amount of weight can cut your risk of diabetes by nearly 60%. Exercise improves insulin function and blood sugar control to prevent the progression of the disease.
With each passing year, it's alarming to see the rates of obesity, substance abuse, diabetes, depression and suicide continually increase. These are complicated issues, especially when dealing with varying degrees of mental illness. What's not complicated is the profound and positive impact exercise can make in your life. Don't put off exercising any longer. If you have any questionable health concerns, obtain clearance from your doctor to begin exercising as soon as possible. Exercise as if your life depends on it, because it does.
Yours in good health,