There are always more benefits to exercise. / Photo by Daria Sannikova from Pexels

Can’t motivate yourself to exercise? Consider these added benefits​

No matter why you exercise, you have a good reason for doing it. Whether it’s about aesthetics or recovering from an injury, we all turn to exercise for a variety of reasons. 

But there are days when the idea of hitting the gym is the last thing you want to do. Maybe you’ve been really busy at work or have had your routine disrupted by illness. You might be frustrated, balancing risk vs. reward and wondering why you aren’t seeing results fast enough. In fact, you might just think “why bother?” 

When your usual source of intrinsic motivation fails, here are some unexpected benefits of exercise that might convince you to put on those running shoes.

Exercise is good for your heart: Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation. This helps lower your risk of heart diseases, your blood pressure, and triglyceride levels.

Exercise can make you more creative: A study at Leiden University found that people who exercise regularly performed better on tests that assessed creativity. This is because exercise stimulates the growth of cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for imagination.

Exercise can help you fight off colds and flu: Even if your flu shot is part of the fall tradition, physical activity has been directly linked to producing antibodies that protect us against various illnesses and diseases. 

Exercise keeps your brain fit: Exercise increases growth factors, a brain chemical which helps make new brain cells and establish new connections to help us learn. It also improves our capacity to learn by enhancing our attention and concentration skills.

Exercise can modulate the risk of dementia: A number of studies have found a relationship between people who exercise and dementia. These studies suggest that you can affect your  risk of dementia through regular physical activity — and one even concluded that staying active reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease risk by 45%!

There is always a reason to bother when it comes to exercise. Our society has become so obsessed with the idea we need to sweat to be successful that we’ve distanced ourselves from some of the benefits of exercise. Yoga, once only thought of as a moving meditation, is now about maximum calorie burn! Yes, exercise can help you burn calories — but it can also reduce your stress hormones, help you sleep better, boost your self-esteem, and alleviate depression.  

Time spent exercising, whether it’s cardio or stretching, is always a good thing. It’s never a waste of time and the benefits, even if you can’t see them, are significant.

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