We all know that exercise is important, but do we understand all the reasons why? There are many benefits to regular exercise – probable more than you are aware of. Read on to find out 12 key reasons why exercise is important.
12 Reasons why exercise is important
Exercise helps weight management
This one is probably no surprise. Exercise helps you burn energy and calories and in doing so is a great weapon for weigh loss and weight management. In fact, it’s proven through studies like this that regular exercise helps to increase your metabolic rate - a pre-cursor for burning more calories.
Regular exercise is most effective at supporting weight management when supported by a healthy, balanced diet. It’s no good going on a 5 mile run every day only to eat 6,000 calories of pizza when you get home. Try to support exercise with an intake of the right nutrients.
The average man needs 2,500 calories a day to maintain his weight. Exercise will burn calories and so can eat more on the days you exercise and still maintain your weight. For example, if you burn 400 calories at the gym, then you can eat 2,900 calories that day and maintain your weight.
If you are looking to lose weight then you need more exercise, to eat fewer calories or a combination of both. If you are looking to gain muscle, then you will need a surplus of the right type of calories in order for your body to grow.
If you are interested in losing weight through exercise then check out our post on what exercise burns the most calories.
Exercise Improves Mood
Exercise can be so effective at improving your mood that there are studies showing that it can be as effective as anti-depression medication in helping mild or moderate depression.
The exact reasons why exercise impacts mood in such a positive way are still not fully understood, but some theories link it to the fact that:
- Exercise increases levels of serotonin
- Exercise increases levels of endorphins
- Exercise reduces chemicals in the immune system
- Exercise helps lower stress (see point 12)
If you need a boost to your mood, then exercise is one of the best tools available to help.
Exercise Helps Better Sleep
There is solid scientific evidence to support the idea that exercise helps sleep. It can actually help you fall asleep faster as well as improving the quality of your sleep.
What is still unknown are the specific reasons why exercise helps sleep or whether the time of day that you exercise makes a difference. Nevertheless, 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day is going to help you to nod off and stay asleep until the morning.
Exercise helps your social life
Human beings are not designed to be alone, and exercise is a great way to make new social connections and engage in social activities.
Join new clubs where you will be physically active doing things that you will enjoy. Also, tag along with your friends the next time they go to the gym, hit the running track or brave the HIIT training session. It can be really helpful to motivation to train with other people.
Exercise can be addictive when it starts becoming a healthy habit, and it’s even more enjoyable when it helps your social life at the same time.
Exercise prevents health conditions and disease
Regular exercise can give you many benefits to help fight away disease. These include:
- Decreased levels of fat
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased good cholesterol
- Decreased unhealthy triglycerides
- Improved cardiovascular performance
This in turn means that you will lower the level of risk to things like:
- Heart attacks or strokes
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Some types of cancer
If exercise was a drug, everyone would be prescribed it so make sure you are getting enough in your life on a regular basis.
Exercise increases energy
When you exercise your heart rate will increase, more blood will be pumped around your body and endorphins released by your brain. This combination is going to give a healthy boost to your energy levels.
This 2008 study found that healthy adults who engaged in just 20 minutes of low-moderate exercise each day for 6 weeks reported less fatigue and increased energy levels.
Exercise makes you feel happy
Who doesn’t like to feel happy? Chasing happiness takes up a major portion of our lives and the good news is that exercise can help.
You may have heard the term ‘runner’s high’ and the scientific reason that exercise promotes feelings of happiness like this is that it releases brain chemicals that are linked to making you feel happy and confident. These chemicals include:
The evidence is undeniable and backed by science – exercise will help make you feel happy.
Exercise helps you look good
As well as feeling good, exercise is going to hep you to look good (which will make you feel even better). Depending on the type and intensity of exercise that you do, it might help you carry less body fat, more muscle and be fitter overall.
It’s a great feeling when you put on that short-sleeved t-shirt and look in the mirror with pride and confidence at your face and body shape. We’re not all going to be fitness models, but progress and positive change can make such a positive difference to our confidence and self-esteem.
There is also evidence that exercise can keep you looking younger for longer. See the next point on how exercise helps skin for more information about his.
Exercise Makes Skin look Better and Younger
When you exercise you increase the flow of blood and oxygen around your body, helping to keep your skin nourished and relieved of waste. You will also sweat more and this will give the body a chance to get rid of toxins through the pores, giving you healthy skin and reducing the chances of acne.
Exercise can also help you look younger. A study done at McMaster University in Ontario measured the impact of exercise on a group of adults between ages 20 and 84. The study showed that frequent exercisers who were over age 40 had skin that resembled that of people in their 20’s and 30’s.
For more tips on looking after your skin, you can find a wealth of info at our skin care for men blog.
Exercise Improves Brain Function and Memory
Your brain is another beneficiary of the increased blood and oxygen being pumped around your body, but exercise can also stimulate the production of hormones that help brain cells to grow.
Exercise can boost your sex life
This one usually gets peoples attention. Yes exercise can help to improve your sex life by boosting your sex drive like this research proves.
Not only does it improve your desire for sex, but exercise can also increase performance, levels of pleasure and frequency of sexual. This study on exercise and sex showed that in a group of 178 men there was a link between more exercise and higher sexual function.
Another big benefit for men is that exercise helps to reduce erectile dysfunction. This is achieved by reducing blood flow problems and through specific exercises that work the muscles beyond the pelvic floor.
Guys – if a better sex life doesn’t encourage you to exercise more then we’re not sure what will!
Exercise can relieve stress
Exercise increases the production of endorphins and reduces the levels of cortisol. This is a great combination to help lift your mood, make you feel more relaxed and lower your levels of stress.
For more information and tips on reducing stress, take a look at our post that focuses on how to reduce stress.
Hopefully this post has helped to clear up why exercise is important and should be a regular part of everybody’s life. The benefits of regular exercise and the negatives of a lack of exercise are just too great for you to be missing out.
In order to get the most out of your physical activity, aim for a minimum of 15 minutes of vigorous exercise or 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.