Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC
In the current day and age, exercise is marketed as something to partake in. Depending on where you live, there may be a variety of gyms, dojos, or other similar fitness studios near you. Likewise, many people choose to engage in regular exercise for a variety of reasons. Some want to remain in good physical shape, while others find that exercise helps them stay psychologically grounded.
Despite the popularity of exercise, not everyone is familiar with it, and that’s OK. The good news is that exercise inherently varies, and there are countless ways of getting your body moving.
Exercise comes with a series of health benefits; being aware of these benefits and how they can impact your life is essential. If you aren’t engaging in regular exercise, it might be worth considering.
The Most Important Benefits of Exercise
While exercise comes with a plethora of mental, emotional, and physical health benefits, it’s most conducive to focus on the most important benefits of getting your body moving. The following seven advantages should prove to be of value to you.
Better Quality of Rest
Findings from Psychology Today confirm that exercise does, in fact, improve your quality of sleep. While reaping sleep-related benefits can admittedly take weeks or months, it’s still an advantage that comes from regular and consistent exercise.
Data has shown that following 16 weeks of frequent exercise improves both the quality and longevity of sleep. Interestingly enough, the inverse appears to be somewhat true. Additional conclusions have indicated a link between poor sleep and less productive workouts.
Boost to Your Mental Health
It’s no secret that exercise comes with a plethora of mental health gains. The American Psychological Association has determined that the benefits of exercise include a more robust psyche and reductions in depression. Believe it or not, an intense and rigorous movement isn’t necessary to boost your mental health from exercise. Activities that are as simple as walking and jogging can go a long way; the same principle applies to aerobic exercise.
Some examples of aerobic exercise include, but are certainly not limited to, the following activities:
Pretty much any form of movement that requires the use of your oxygen to exercising is considered aerobic exercise. This form of movement can take place at both low and high-intensity levels.
Stronger Muscles and Bones
Just like enjoying better rest and a higher quality of mental health, your muscles and bones are rewarded when you exercise. Physical activities, such as weightlifting, are great for your muscles and can build strength. Exercise helps strengthen your muscles and bones, but it also allows your muscles to ingest amino acids; in the long run, this helps you not only grow muscles but also retain muscle functionality and mass. This will become more and more critical as you age.
Similarly, to getting a better quality of rest, stronger muscles and bones are benefits that come with regular exercise. Working out even just a few times per week can make a difference as time passes.
Heightened Learning and Memory Functions
When you engage in exercise, you’re causing your heart rate to increase; this works in your favor in multiple ways. Firstly, it can stimulate hormones that help brain cells to grow. Secondly, an increased heart rate also causes your brain to receive more blood and oxygen.
Learning and memory functions are also benefited via exercise when your hippocampus grows. Your hippocampus plays a vital role in mental capacity, memory, and learning. This particular benefit of exercise is especially for older adults. As we age, the functionality and structure of our brains can change, although exercise is still good for people of all ages.
Lower Likelihood of Obesity
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains that obesity can cause high blood pressure, sleep disorders, cancers, and other serious health issues. However, regular exercise significantly lessens your chances of becoming overweight or obese.
Getting your body moving allows you to burn calories consumed through the food you eat. If you are looking to lose weight, you’ll have to burn more calories than you ingest consistently. This doesn’t mean that you should stop eating or go overboard with exercise.
If you eat an even reasonably balanced diet and exercise on a fairly regular basis, you can stay in good shape or put you on the path to physical fitness.
Allows You to Make New Friends
If you’re an extrovert or someone who enjoys being around people, you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t have to exercise. There are countless fitness groups, martial arts classes, and workout organizations you can join. Connecting with other like-minded people who value exercise can allow you to make new friends who are also into healthy lifestyle habits.
Simplifies Everyday Activities
Believe it or not, getting a good workout in regularly can significantly make everyday activities – such as stair-climbing, supermarket shopping, etc. – much easier. This benefit can especially be of value to older adults who may be more susceptible to functional limitations.
If you or someone in your family has certain functional limitations or is struggling with everyday activities, a fair amount of exercise can help. Even just walking or light stretching a few times per week can make a huge difference. Sometimes, less is more, and little things can make significant differences.
How to Make Exercise a Regular Habit
If regular exercise is not a habit for you, don’t worry. There are a variety of approaches you can take to get your body moving. With time and consistency, you may also find that regularly working out simply becomes part of your daily routine. Until then, however, considering the following bits of advice is recommended.
Schedule Times to Workout
When you’re not used to exercising, one of the best ways to make a change is to schedule specific times to get your body moving. This can be as simple as jogging in the park at 6 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays or stretching for ten minutes each morning. You know your schedule and when you are most available.
To maximize productivity, you may find that starting with minimal exercise and then gradually ramping things up to be most effective. This can especially be beneficial if you’re just breaking into exercise. Trust yourself and your body; moreover, don’t be afraid to go at your own pace.
Join an Exercise Class
From yoga to karate, jujitsu, Zumba, and countless other physical activities, there are a plethora of available exercise classes you can take. Signing up for an exercise class will not only get your body moving regularly, but it also gives you determined times to work out.
As time passes, working out on a set schedule allows you to reap the benefits linked to exercise. Moreover, being part of a group of other regular exercise classes can open the door to new friendships with other people who also value fitness. Exercise comes with a series of health benefits. Still, it can also enhance your life in other ways and improve your interpersonal relationships.
Sign Up for a Gym Membership
Just like scheduling times to work out or joining an exercise class, signing up for a gym membership is highly recommended for doing regular exercise. Many people have found working out at the gym to be helpful for a series of reasons.
Gym workouts can be destressing and rejuvenating; you’ll also find that some gyms have workout classes that come along with the membership or additional fee. This can work in your favor if you’d like to take up an exercise class and get moving with other people.
Additional Resources for Help and Support
There is no denying that exercise helps with many aspects of life. However, there is still no substitute for seeking help when it can be of value to you. Even the best of us face challenges in life. Sometimes, these challenges can be unexpected and seemingly impossible. Still, with the right support, steps, and mindset, you can overcome anything.
If you feel as though outside help and support could be of value to you, online therapy is highly advised. Working with an online therapist comes with many upsides; this is why BetterHelp couldn’t be prouder to provide this service.
Learning more about yourself, resolving issues from the past, and developing healthy coping strategies are only a few ways that online therapy can assist you. Furthermore, working with an online therapist means getting professional feedback from virtually anywhere in the world. If you live in a remote area or travel frequently, this aspect of online therapy can truly make a difference.
Only you can determine whether or not working with an online therapist is right for you. Still, BetterHelp will always be here as a resource and an option. You can reach out to us at any time, and we look forward to helping you change your life.