Although this list could easily say "100 Reasons to Exercise" here are 24...
1. Increase overall energy. If you have a midday slump, hit the gym. Exercise can increase the level of feel good chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin in the body and decrease fatigue by 65 percent, a new University of Georgia study reveals.
2. Increase your sex drive. Researchers credit the surge to heightened nerve activity.
3. Can cure insomnia. Thirty minutes of exercise four days a week helps people conk out 12 minutes earlier and sleep 42 minutes longer, find California researchers. Rack up about an hour of extra shut eye every day. Rest is a weapon. Use it as such.
4. Can relieve pain. Research shows that virtually any type of exercise: tai chi, yoga, strength training can relieve your misery. In fact, a new Danish study found that people who did neck and back strength training for 10 weeks felt an 80 percent improvement. When excessive computer work or hard labor leave your back and neck aching, get moving. Seek help to get a plan in place.
5. Strengthens bones. Weight-bearing activities cause bones to become denser. Stronger bones are less likely to succumb to osteoporosis.
6. Preserve your eyes. Making it to your sweat session at least three times a week may reduce your risk for age-related macular degeneration by up to 70 percent, says research from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Regular exercise helps prevent irregularities in blood-vessel walls that contribute to vision woes.
7. Alleviate asthma. The exercise-asthma combo gets a bad rap. Docs say sufferers often skip workouts because they fear a flare up, which causes them to get out of shape, exacerbating the condition. However, regular exercise reduces the number of inflammatory cells in the lungs, actually easing symptoms. Seek guidance on program setup for your needs.
8. Reduce stress. Exercise reduces tension by raising the amount of mood-boosting endorphins in the body. A Finnish study shows that people who exercise just two to three times a week are significantly less likely to feel stressed then those who skip.
9. Reduce blood pressure. Exercising regularly is as effective as taking some prescription meds, lowering BP by an average of 10 millimeters.
10. Prevent cholesterol buildup. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise (or metabolic training) can boost HDL by 5 to 10 percent and help filter away artery-clogging LDL's.
11. Keep arteries healthy. Working out may increase the elasticity of your arteries, so they're less prone to harden.
12. Lower triglyceride levels. People who are highly active typically have fewer triglycerides (aka fat) circulating in their blood than those who are inactive.
13. Fight cancer. You can reduce your risk of cancer by as much as 33% simply by doing something physical four days a week, according to multiple studies.
14. Improve your smile. BFW...Brush. Floss. Work out? Regular exercisers cut their risk of periodontal disease by more than half, according to the Journal of Dentistry (smokers, you're disqualified). It's thought that exercise helps the body regulate sugars that feed bacteria in gum tissue.
15. Help you heal faster. Ohio State researchers found that exercisers' wounds (think blisters and cuts) healed 10 days sooner than non-exercisers'. A follow up study discovered that keeping fit reduces excessive inflammation around the injury, aiding recovery.
16. Ease the blues. Light physical activity, even 20 minutes of housework reduces the odds of feeling glum by up to 40 percent. Bonus: you have a clean house (LOL).
17. Fire up your metabolism. When you exercise, you build muscle, and muscle burns calories. Lots. Get after it!
18. Halt headaches. Strenuous exercise can be a migraine trigger for some, but for most of us, low-intensity workouts actually stave off the pain. Evidence suggests that keeping your heart rate elevated for at least 20 minutes three times a week may reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches (thank you, beta-endorphins).
19. Break the nicotine habit (if you are still in LA LA LAND). Exercise spurs the release of "happy" brain chemicals that override cravings. Walk away from addiction...literally! Speed-walking for at least 15 minutes (or 40 burpees LOL) can stifle your longing for a smoke.
20. Make you smarter. Can't find your keys? Wallet? Forty minutes of cardio four times a week can double the amount blood flow to the hippocampus (the brain's memory center), enhancing recall.
21. Fend off colds. In one Seattle study, 60-80 percent of people who worked out regularly avoided catching the cold all year long.
22. Reduce diabetes risk. There are 41 million Americans who are pre-diabetic. However, studies show that if they exercised daily for just 30 minutes, they'd delay getting Type 2 diabetes for approximately 11 years. And if they released 10 pounds in the process, they could cut their total risk in half.
23. Add years to your life. Results from a 12 year University of South Carolina study indicate that, no matter what the scale says, active people (runners in this study) live about nine years longer than sedentary types.
24. Add life to your years. Quality of life is what we all should strive for. No one I know wants to live a long debilitating life. Even Spock said "live long AND prosperous."
There are plenty more reasons to workout and maintain an active lifestyle...more to come. Stay tuned!
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