Six benefits of physical fitness

No one likes to do anything without a good reason. Your doctor or your personal trainer, or even your best friend nagging you to exercise may not be enough motivation to do it. Sure, they make some good points, and common sense tells you that exercise is a good thing. But sometimes we need things broken down so we can really understand why something is good for us.

Was it ever enough for your mom to just tell you that broccoli or spinach (or insert your own yucky vegetable here) was good for you and you should eat it? But maybe if she’d told you it would give your body energy so you could stay up later to play, you might have considered eating it without a fight. So if you need a little extra incentive to get onto the elliptical and not just use it as a clothes hanger, these six reasons may help get you going.

Control Your Weight

Forget all those quick weight loss claims you see in magazines and on television. There is no magic pill that will make you lose weight and build muscle. The best way to lose weight is by controlling your caloric intake—not starving yourself, just not overeating—and exercising on a regular basis. Cardiovascular exercise is probably the best exercise method for weight loss. If you need to lose a lot of weight, just remember to talk to your doctor first, and start out slowly.

Fight Chronic Disease

Study after study has proved that exercise is essential to preventing chronic disease. The heart is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in the body, it must be worked to remain healthy and do its job. Keeping your heart healthy through regular exercise can help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Many people have also found that exercising on a regular basis reduces the frequency of migraine headaches. And it’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise like running helps prevent osteoporosis.

Build Strength, Increase Energy

These could probably be two separate benefits, but they seem to go hand in hand. Lifting weights isn’t the only way to build strength. Running works the muscles in your legs, and the quadricep is one of the largest muscles in the body. The more muscle tissue in your body, the more calories your body burns. The more calories you burn, the better you’ll manage your weight. When you’re not carrying around extra pounds, you’ll have more energy to engage in more activities, and enjoy them more fully. It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to counter the feeling of being tired all the time is to exercise.

Get Better Sleep

When you’ve put your body through its paces, it’s going to need some rest. Working out just a few times a week can go a long way to helping you not only fall asleep, but stay asleep throughout the night. In addition, you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed than if you were just sitting around all day. Just remember not to exercise too close to bedtime. If you do, that energized feeling you get after a workout may keep you from falling asleep for a while.

Improve Your Mood

It’s common knowledge that exercise causes the release of endorphins, the brain’s own happy little neurotransmitters. They’re known to improve mood, and even lessen the intensity of pain in the body. Endorphins are the reason for the runner’s high you may have heard about, or even experienced yourself. Exercising on a regular basis means you’re also increasing the amount of endorphins in your body on a regular basis, thereby improving your mood. It doesn’t mean you won’t still have bad days, but you may be better able to handle them when they happen if you’ve been exercising.

Look Good

Let’s be honest. Improved health, fighting disease, and good mental well being are all great and important reasons to exercise. But nothing motivates like being able to wear a certain pair of jeans, or hit the beach in the summer without being embarrassed. This goes for men as well as women. No guy wants to slip on a pair of swim trunks and find his belly extends a little further than he thought it did. Exercising on a regular basis keeps your body in shape, which means you’ll look like the best version of yourself. And looking good makes you feel good about yourself, too. There may be a cost involved with buying a treadmill, but gaining high self-esteem in return is priceless.

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