5 Surprising Benefits of ExerciseLast Updated: January 19, 2019
Everyone knows working out is great for staying in shape and building muscles, but that just scratches the surface of how important it can be. Here are the top five benefits to exercising that you might not be aware of!
1) Boosts Happiness
We're not just talking about feeling better about yourself: exercise actually stimulates the production of serotonin and dopamine, the neuro-chemicals behind every feeling of satisfaction and happiness you feel. Those that haven't exercised in awhile can find this hard to believe, because the stress and pain of working out eclipses it in the moment, but the "workout high" that often comes afterward is so powerful that doctors actually prescribe exercise for those suffering from depression or anxiety!
2) Boosts Mental Functions
Don't be fooled into thinking that exercise is just for your body! The chemicals released during exercise and the signals sent during coordinated activity can keep your hippocampus healthy, which is the part of the brain that focuses on learning and memory. It also boosts brain cell generation and improves memory. Not only that, but studies have shown it can help fight the effects of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Your body is controlled by your brain, so when you work your body, they both benefit!
3) Boosts Creativity
Even artists have a great reason to exercise! Whether it's figuring out some complex issue or getting inspiration for a new painting or story, research has shown that time spent exercising can be used to reflect on things in an enhanced way, and the effects last for hours afterward, giving a noticeable benefit to creative thinking and problem solving. Next time you're looking for inspiration or feel like your thinking is stuck in a rut, try taking a walk and see if it shakes something loose.
4) Boost Relaxation
As paradoxical as it sounds, more exercise can actually reduce your tension and anxiety, and help you relax! It's fairly easy to understand how exercising can help you get a good night's rest: even a moderate workout can it easier to fall asleep, and easier to sleep through the night without waking. But even beyond that, exercising relieves stress directly, and helps clear the head from all those negative voices that crowd our thoughts. When you're feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, take a step back from life for a bit and go for a walk, especially somewhere peaceful like a park or the beach.
5) Boost Productivity
Yet another seeming contradiction, research has shown that people who take some time out of their day working out have more energy and get more done! If you sit at a cubicle all day, try to get up and walk around for five minutes every hour, or take a walk around the block in the afternoon. You'll get all the benefits listed above, and on top of all that, it's healthy for you!
So next time you need to push yourself to get a workout done, remember that you're not just keeping yourself fit: you'll also improve your mood and mind, be more creative and productive, and reduce stress! There are few activities that can do so much.
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