So often weight loss is the focus of a healthy lifestyle. And although a healthy weight is a good goal, it shouldn't be the sole focus. Weight isn't necessarily an indicator of health and it has been shown that people who diet and exercise purely for weight loss, quit sooner than those who do it for an overall lifestyle change. Here are 25 scientifically supported reasons
to start living a healthier life that have nothing to do with weight:
1. It works as an antidepressant
One study has found that people who suffer with depression who did aerobic exercise, showed just as much improvement in their symptoms as those on medication. After 4 months, 60-70% could no longer be classified as having depression. And, a follow up found that the effects of exercise on depression lasted far longer than the effects of medication.
2. It reduces PMS symptoms
In one study, teen girls performed 60 minute cardio sessions three times a week for eight weeks. They reported that their symptoms, especially depression and anger, were greatly improved.
3. It reduces stress and anxiety
Working out is one of the fastest ways to clear cortisol, the stress hormone, from your system. Your comfort foods won't actually do much to help so grab your workout gear and break a sweat.
4. It boosts creativity
Next time you need a new idea for that project at work, go for a walk. A recent study found that walking improved both convergent and divergent thinking, the two types associated with enhanced creativity.
5. It wipes out allergies
Working out during an allergy attack doesn't sound like much fun but researchers in Thailand found that 30 minutes of running can reduce sneezing, itching, congestion, and runny nose by up to 90 percent.
6. It strengthens your heart
A report from the American Heart Association says that exercise strengthens your heart muscle as well as reduces your risk of heart disease and other related conditions. So next time you think your heart is going to pound out of your chest, know that it will thank you later.
7. It helps you resist temptation
In one study, scientists found that the endorphin rush released during exercise acts on the same neural pathways as addictive substances
. You've heard of a runner's high? Maybe it is time to swap whatever you're addicted to for that natural high.
8. It reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is comprised of increased blood pressure/cholesterol, high blood sugar, and excessive fat around the waist. But don't panic, high intensity interval training has been shown to all but erase metabolic syndrome and reverse the damage.
9. It lessens the risk of other disease too
Many types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease—we'd be here all day if we listed all the illnesses that exercising lowers your risk for. It is a miracle drug that is completely effective with no side effects.
10. It protects your eyes
Recent research found that one of the best ways to protect your eyes and stave off age-related vision loss is regular cardiovascular exercise.
11. It adds years to your life...
People who exercise, live longer. Research suggests that you can add up to seven years to your life by exercising a minimum of 150 minutes a week (that's just three days of working out for 50 minutes), regardless of what you weigh.
12. ... And life to your years
A recent study found that people who exercise reported feeling happier, more excited, and had more enthusiasm for life than their couch-potato peers.
13. It makes you respect your body
Don't get so caught up in working for six pack abs and shift your focus. Using our bodies not only strengthens them but builds our gratitude for all the cool stuff they can do.
14. It strengthens bones
The best way to build bone density and reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis into old age is to do weight-bearing exercises like running or dancing. But keep it up because if you stop exercising later in life, you will still lose bone mass no matter how much you exercised in your younger years.
15. It saves money
One Fortune 500 company estimates that for each dollar spent on preventative health, including exercise, it saves $2.71 in future health costs.
16. It helps your fertility
Harvard researchers found that men who exercised had a higher concentration of sperm in their semen and that the sperm was of better-than-average quality. Women get a boost too. A meta-analysis looking at nearly 27,000 women found that those who worked out had lower rates overall of infertility, higher rates of implantation, and lower rates of miscarriage. One caveat: Women who exercised too strenuously or too much impaired their fertility, so it’s all about balance.
17. It makes you a sex god
Ladies, heard about 'coregasims?' They are orgasms achieved from doing ab exercises. Read more here
. And dudes who exercise have a lower incidence of impotency and erectile dysfunction.
18. It improves self esteem
Research has found that exercisers report higher self esteem and lower incidence of negative thoughts about their bodies.
19. It helps you sleep like a baby
Sleep is super important to your health. Researchers found that people who exercised regularly had less incidence of insomnia and a higher quality of sleep. In addition, for people who did suffer from insomnia, adding consistent daily exercise significantly reduced their sleepless nights.
20. It doesn't just make you look younger, it makes you be younger
Telomeres, the cap on the ends of DNA, start out long at birth and get progressively shorter with age. Up until recently it was thought there wasn't much we could do to change that, but a new study showed that endurance athletes have longer telomeres than their peers, while a second study found that moderate exercise can lengthen your telomeres by up to 10 percent.
21. It pumps you up
Exercise builds muscle and coordination. Next time you have to shovel out your driveway or lift that bag of cat litter off the floor, you'll be able to do so no problem.
22. It blasts bad fat and boosts good fat
We don't want visceral fat -- the kind that builds around your middle. It builds around the organs and can cause some serious damage. The good news is that this belly fat is particularly vulnerable to exercise. High intensity interval training (HIIT) blows it away the fastest.
23. It makes you a good example for your loved ones
People in your life are watching you. You exercise encourages others to do the same. We mirror those around us so why not demonstrate a really positive behaviour?
24. It makes you smarter
Building muscle, builds brain cells. A meta-analysis of the effects of exercise on the brain found that fitness improves memory, boosts cognition, helps you learn faster, increases brain volume, and even makes you a better reader. Studies have also shown that it can prevent cognitive decline as we age.
25. It manages chronic pain
Research shows that a moderate exercise program gives both short-term and long-term improvements for people who have chronic pain, even if the underlying condition remains. It won't fix things but it can help.
Outside of weight loss, what benefits do you notice when you work out and eat right?