While many people go hard after exercise so that they can look better, getting in shape is about more than looking your best in a swimsuit. Getting more exercise has been proven to protect your heart, boost brain function, curb appetite and even prolong your life. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should abandon your couch potato habits and get moving.
Exercise Prolongs Your Life
The most convincing reason to make exercise a part of your lifestyle is because it has been proven to prolong your life. A 2019 study out of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences in Stockholm found that individual mortality risk decreases with increased levels of exercise. These results are the same regardless of age, gender and general level of fitness.
Even moderate amounts of exercise can lead to greater longevity. Replacing only 30 minutes per day of inactivity with physical movement may boost your lifespan. A 2017 study out of the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City found that those who sat for less than half an hour at a time had the lowest risk of early death.
The study also showed that if you have a job that is sedentary, it is a good idea to be diligent about getting up every 30 minutes to walk a bit. Doing so may lower the risk of a premature death. It is the short spurts of regular movement that may be the key to longevity.
Exercise Protects Your Heart
Consistent exercise can also keep your heart young. A study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore demonstrated that it is never too late to protect your heart through regular exercise. The findings of the study showed that engaging in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week during the middle age years can reduce your risk of heart failure by up to 31 percent.
What was most surprising was the finding that beginning to engage in moderate activity in middle age may reduce the risk of heart failure by 23 percent. This shows that it is never too late to get going with your exercise routine, even if you are starting at a baseline of no regular physical activity. Even making this important lifestyle change later in life can have beneficial effects.
Exercise Improves Brain Function
There is no shortage of research to prove that regular exercise improves brain function. Moving your body and working up a sweat can help to slow down the normal aging of the brain. Exercise may also mitigate the odds developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
A study from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida revealed that for seniors, spending a minimum of at least 52 hours exercising over an average period of six months may boost the brain’s processing speed. This makes it easier for the brain to process data and perform tasks. This benefit was observed in seniors with no diagnosed cognitive impairment as well as with those who had been previously diagnosed with MCI. Comparatively, seniors who exercised for an average of only 34 hours over the same time period did not report any benefits.
It is important to note that while there was a definite link between cognitive function and the amount of exercise, the intensity of the activity did not appear to have an impact. Lower intensity exercises were just as effective at providing advantages as more intense activity. The benefits were observed regardless of whether the activity was high-intensity aerobic exercise, strength training or yoga.
Exercise Curbs Your Appetite
Many people erroneously believe that exercise will make you hungrier. However, numerous studies have demonstrated that aerobic exercise actually decreases your overall appetite. This happens as a result of the effect of exercise on the hormones that control your hunger levels.
A study out of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York set out to explain why appetite was suppressed after exercise. The results suggest that the increased amount of body heat that occurs as a result of physical activity works to stimulate specific receptors in the brain that decrease the desire to eat.
Getting More Exercise is Valuable in Every Way
All of these reasons point to the fact that getting more exercise is beneficial in a myriad of ways that stretch well beyond just looking good. While it is certainly understandable to want to keep your weight in the healthy range so that you can fit into all of your favorite clothes, these other compelling reasons provide even more motivation to stick with your program. You owe it to your physical and mental health to be intentional about making regular exercise a part of your everyday routine.