We all know exercise is good for us. It keeps our muscles and hearts strong, and helps us maintain a healthy weight. Yet there are several other benefits to regular exercise that you may not know about. Once you do, you might just feel inspired to lace up those running shoes and head out the door.
1. Better Sleep
When people exercise daily they tend to sleep better and feel more energy—which really improves their quality of life. Some studies have found that moderate exercise six hours before bedtime improves sleep quality. Yet the affect might not be immediate—a study showed that better sleep could take up to four months to experience, especially with those who have sleep issues.
It seems a bit counter-intuitive to think that exercising—which takes energy—would give us more energy. Yet it’s true. If you’ve ever felt too tired to work out but made yourself do it anyway, you know that somewhere along the way you start feeling better. By the time you’re done, you are always glad you did it
2. Lowers Cholesterol
Regular exercise is good for heart health. It lowers people’s cholesterol which goes hand-in-hand with weight loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate regular exercise raises your good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Most reputable health organizations recommend exercising at least 30 minutes, five days a week.
3. Limits Food Cravings
Did you know that regular morning exercise might lower your food cravings for the rest of the day? A recent study showed that when people exercised and then were presented with food images, their arousal level to eat was lower than the levels of people who didn’t exercise.
If you have a desk job, a morning workout routine might be especially vital. When we sit all day at a desk we tend to snack. We do so because our brain needs glucose to work. With a lower arousal level for food, you might be more apt to reach for carrots rather than cookies. If you must sit at your job, get up every hour and move around.
4. Makes You Happy
It’s a proven fact that regular exercise lowers mild to moderate depression and anxiety. When you exercise, your body releases “feel good” neurotransmitters into your blood stream, bringing on positive feelings and a sense of peace.
With a commitment to exercise, also commit to watching what you eat and quitting smoking to see the greatest benefits from exercise. Ready to start? Set up a regular walk with a neighbor or sign up for a 5k walk/run. Take an exercise class with a friend or buy a workout DVD that you can do at home. Your quality of life is sure to improve.