Maybe you’ve been meaning to start but just haven’t found the right routine … or even the right exercise hack. Perhaps you’re recovering from an injury or haven’t gotten around to it. Whatever your excuse, I’m here to tell you that today is the day to start working out.
That’s because the benefits of exercise are far more than just losing weight or achieving that “bikini body.” Exercise benefits everything from your sleep quality to your energy level, and even your memory. From making you happier to helping you live longer, regular exercise is key to living a healthy, balanced life.
11 Reasons You Should Start Working Out Today
1. Boost happiness levels
Whether we’re fully conscious of it or not, we’re always looking for how to be happy. And exercise is one of the most obvious steps to take, as it’s not a coincidence that you feel better after a good workout: It’s science. A Penn State University study found that people who exercised, whether it was a mild, moderate or vigorous workout, had more pleasant feelings than those who didn’t.
These same people were also happier on days when they were more physically active than usual, meaning that upping the ante on workouts can provide even more of a happiness boost. The takeaway? Working out can make you happy long term; adding extra intensity can make you feel even better.
Another experiment used a smartphone app to have participants track their activity, location and happiness levels throughout the day. It received more than 3 million responses a year — and users were at their second-happiest post-workout.
2. Learn to set — and achieve — goals
Whether it’s deciding to run a 10K, increasing the amount you can deadlift or increasing your bike mileage, setting and achieving fitness goals is an incredible self-confidence boost. But if you find your resolutions falling to the wayside, science has uncovered the secret to success: setting clear intentions.
A 2002 study examined three groups of people. Group one, the control group, was told to track how often each person exercised throughout the week. The second group, the motivation group, was given the same instructions, but also read a motivational speech. Group three, the intention group, added on to the previous groups by asking people to create a plan that set a specific day, time and place to exercise.
Guess who was most successful? Group three had a much higher rate of actually following through, at a tune of 91 percent, while the control group exercised at least 38 percent of the week. The motivation group actually exercised the least, with just 35 percent.
By discovering the power of goal setting by committing to reaching an exercise milestone and then working out just how you’ll achieve it, you can enjoy the benefits of exercise and the confidence that comes along with it.
3. Reduce your risk of heart disease naturally
Get out of the medicine cabinet and reduce your risk of heart disease the natural way. A meta-review of a variety of studies and trials conducted by researchers in 2013 — encompassing 305 trials with more than 339,000 participants — found that no statistically detectable differences existed between those who exercised and those who were given medications in the prevention of coronary heart disease and prediabetes.
In fact, in those patients who already had suffered a stroke, physical activity interventions were more effective than drug treatment. Work with your doctor to set up an exercise plan that works for you.
4. Sleep better
If you can’t sleep and instead are prone to tossing and turning, exercising can help you sleep better. By strengthening circadian rhythms, exercising can help keep you more bright-eyed during the day and bring on sleep at night. It also promotes better quality sleep.
While the effects may not be an immediate quick fix — a recent study found that it can take up to four months for those beginning an exercise routine to have a positive effect on sleep — starting a working out plan is the only way to ensure you’ll sleep soundly every night.
5. Get an energy boost
When you’re feeling exhausted, the last thing you might want to do is squeeze in a workout. But, according to experts, that’s exactly what you should do. They found that low-intensity exercise, the equivalent of a leisurely stroll, experienced a drop in fatigue levels and a 20 percent energy boost.
Even more exciting is that the low-intensity exercise group’s fatigue levels dropped more than the higher-intensity group, great news for those who might skip a workout because they don’t have time or energy for a more intense session. Both groups reported steadily increased energy over the span of the six-week experiment.