8 great reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss
Want to feel better, have more energy and even sleep better? Just exercise.
Working out in order to feel confident in a pair of skinny jeans or fitted shirt can feel stressful — but there are many more reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with your waistline. A regular workout routine is essential for feeling your best and living a healthy, high-quality life, says Dr Anubhav Gupta, a general physician based in Delhi. Emerging studies also show that there are plenty of compelling reasons to start moving at any age, and even if you’re ill or pregnant. Here are a few reminders of why exercise should be a part of your day, whether or not you're trying to lose weight.
Exercise can boost your mood
Stressed, annoyed, angry? Go exercise. Countless studies show that many types of exercises — from walking to cycling — make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression, says Dr Gupta. “The endorphins released when you exercise can help put you in a better mood,” he explains, which can lead to all sorts of happy moments, from socialising to a better love life.
It can help prevent diseases
According to Dr Gupta, exercise is a cornerstone of any healthy lifestyle, and it can help prevent a wide variety of diseases and illnesses. “Not only does regular exercise help strengthen your heart, but it can also alter the type of bacteria in your gut, which may be beneficial in helping reduce inflammatory and other diseases, in addition to helping with weight management,” he says. Add to that the fact that exercise sheds disease-causing internal fat, and it's clear that a regular workout routine can keep you on the healthy track.
Exercise is great for your brain
It’s linked to less depression, better memory and quicker learning, says Dr Gupta. Therefore, problem-solving, crafting the perfect email, or nailing a work assignment can be easier if you've exercised beforehand. “The endorphins that pep you up also help clear your mind, so you can think better and smarter,” says Dr Gupta.
Exercise can help you sleep better
Even though exercising can rev you up, it's the perfect remedy for too many restless or sleepless nights, since it'll help you burn any excess energy you have during the day, says Dr Gupta.
Exercise will boost your energy
No, that one-hour-long walk isn't going to wear you out. On the contrary, research has shown that the more you exercise, the more energy you have. If you find yourself feeling sluggish all day or can't keep your eyes open when the afternoon hits, try adding a few exercises to your routine, suggests Kabir Khan, fitness trainer and instructor at The Studio, Mumbai.
It can increase your pain tolerance
A study found that regular cardio three times a week significantly increased participants' tolerance to pain. “For anyone who's been knocked down by post-workout muscle soreness, it may seem surprising that exercise can help you feel less pain in the long run, but researchers think regular exercise could be a possible prescription for people who live with chronic pain,” says Khan.
It’ll make your skin look better
“Aerobic exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering oxygen and nutrients that improve skin health and even help wounds heal faster,” says Khan. Train long enough, Dr Gupta adds, and you’ll add more blood vessels and tiny capillaries to the skin, too.
Exercise wards off Alzheimer's and helps manage menopause
In a study of more than 800 elderly adults by US-based health research organisation, Mayo Clinic, found that those who engaged in moderate physical exercise two to five times a week earlier in life had a reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment thought to be a precursor to Alzheimer's. Moreover, a daily walking routine can also decrease feelings of stress and anxiety triggered by depleted levels of estrogen, according to an eight-year study of 401 pre- and postmenopausal women at Temple University. Benefits were seen even with light to moderate levels of effort — the subjects walked 35 minutes at a pace of about 3km an hour.