It's pretty common for people to exercise in order to lose weight or build muscle, which are both great reasons to work out. But as science and those who exercise regularly will tell you, there are a number of additional benefits we can derive from it. It doesn't matter how old you are, how fit you are, or what type of exercise you enjoy, there are a wide range of positive effects brought on by hitting the treadmill or lifting a few weights, both mental and physical.
Here are just a few:
- Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- Increase Happiness, Memory, and Brainpower
- Be More Productive and Creative
- Stave Off Mental Decline
Whether you've simply had a long day at work, or you suffer from an anxiety disorder, exercise is one of the most effective ways of ridding yourself of both physical and mental tension. Working out—especially aerobically—raises the production of a variety of brain chemicals such as norepinephrine, which helps limit the brain's response to stress and anxiety.
Not only does exercise decrease the negative things affecting your brain, it also increases a lot of the good. The endorphins released during a workout can cause feelings of thrilling euphoria (aka the "runner's high"). Exercise has also been proven to increase the production of cells in the hippocampus and other parts of the brain associated with memory, higher thinking, and decision making. Running sprints, for example, has been shown to increase vocabulary retention.
Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are more energetic and more productive. Moderate to high levels of exercise also result in a creative boost lasting roughly two hours after working out.
All of us know that with age comes a decline in our cognitive processes, either gradually or suddenly. Working out helps to build up the levels of certain brain chemicals that prevent the ravages of time and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Studies have shown that this can be especially beneficial between the ages of 25 and 45.
Simply put, exercise provides a comprehensive range of benefits. If weight loss and conditioning alone weren't good enough reasons to hop on the elliptical and get some motion in, maybe these are.