Lots of fitness programs and trainers will tell you that working out is it’s own reward, but what does that really mean? Being healthy is a fairly vague term, so let’s get into the nitty gritty of what happens to you body biologically and how those changes help you in all areas of your life.

Working out regularly brings the following benefits:

1. Slower heart rate.

If you work out regularly, your heart is pumping more efficiently. That means your heart simply does not need to pump as many times per minute, for example, that it used to. You do the same amount of work with less effort. So if your resting heart rate was 80 beats a minute before you started working out, it will drop to 70 or lower. That’s a pretty amazing feat. Like anything, greater efficiency means longer life and greater functionality!

2. Calm like the ocean.

This is connected to the above point, but slightly different. A slower heart rate means you are not so hair-trigger stressed. This is why people say they de-stress with a workout, because at the end of a workout, they are were breathing deeper, getting more oxygen into their brain and giving their lungs an nice healthy stretch.

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3. Helps you become more organized!

Exercising releases endorphins which help you prioritize tasks in your brain, which makes sense if you remember our bodies were designed for the wild. If you are running from a lion (ancient cardio) and looking for a tree to climb (ancient Challenger Bars!) and you feel the need to scratch your big toe, it is reasonable to imagine that a flood of chemicals is released into your brain to help you make the right decision about what to focus on!

4. Lowered risk of cancer.

According to Meredith, the Women’s Health Network, in a study of more than 14,800 women, those who had the highest levels of aerobic fitness were 55 percent less likely to die from breast cancer than those who were sedentary. That’s an enormous decrease! Women considered reasonably fit had about a 33 percent lower risk of developing the disease. Researchers say that exercise may also help lower your risk of endometrial, lung, and ovarian cancer.

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5. Years off your life…at the cellular level!

Studies have shown that really fit people have better telomeres, the DNA sequences that shore up the ends of our chromosomes and protect them from deterioration or fusion with neighboring chromosomes, which slows the aging process.

6. You’re happier, chemically!

According to a study from Duke University, four months of exercise is as good as prescription meds at boosting mood and reducing depression. The reason for this lies in a brief description of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or the class of drugs known as antidepressants. SSRIs slow down your brain’s ability to reabsorb — and therefore dilute — the amount of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is the key to happiness. It’s a chemical, known as a neurotransmitter, that provides you with the ability to feel happy and calm. Drugs can keep serotonin in your brain, but exercise helps you release more of it.

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