We all know that exercise is a key component to leading a happy, healthy life. But do you really know how important exercise actually is for you? While we'd all like to fit in our skinny jeans and makes our exes jealous, staying active is about so much more than keeping a slim waist line and having a firm butt. Here are ten (unexpected) reasons why you should be hitting the gym daily:
1. Keep your brain fit.
Even one 30-minute cardio session pumps extra blood to your brain, delivering the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at max efficiency. Cardio also floods the brain with chemicals that enhance functions such as memory, problem solving, and decision making. And new research has found that this kind of exercise may even cause permanent structural changes to the brain itself.
2. Improve sleeping patterns
A nationally representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women, ages 18-85, found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week, which is the national guideline, provided a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality People also said they felt less sleepy during the day, compared to those with less physical activity.
3. Alleviate anxiety
The primary reason that exercise works as en effective anxiety management solution is because exercise actually has some of the same effects as some anxiety medications. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which are your body's natural painkillers. They're released to prevent exercise from causing your body pain, but they also play a role in regulating mood and relaxing the mind.
4. Improve posture
Proper posture supports the spine and helps prevent conditions such as sciatica and herniated disks, which can cause back pain. Regular exercise can actually improve your posture in several ways. The abs and lower back stabilize the lower torso to keep the spine upright, while the thighs and buttocks help keep the hips in proper alignment. Core-specific exercises, such as Pilates and yoga poses, condition these muscles, as do leg-specific resistance exercises, such as squats and lunges.
5. Help control addictions
It may not be a cure, but aerobic activity can help strengthen the effects of treatment for addiction. During exercise, endorphins and other naturally released substance can create a safe and natural high. Regular exercise can, in some cases, reduce stress along with stress-induced cravings.
6. Prevents colds
When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, seasonal colds and influenza.
7. Boosts productivity
One way that exercise can help boost productivity is through alertness. When you exercise, blood flow to the brain is increased, which can help sharpen your awareness and ready you to tackle your next big project.
8. Strengthens bones
Bones and muscles both become stronger when muscles push and tug against bones during physical activity. Essentially, having strong muscles helps build strong bones. Exercise can also slow the rate of bone loss, which reduces the risk of fractures from osteoporosis.
9. Improves eating habits
Skeletal muscle secretes hormones that help it communicate with the rest of the body. When muscle contracts during exercise, it releases a chemical that reduces white noise in the brain and helps the brain clearly determine the body's correct nutritional status. Regular physical activity can improve your appetite and reduce caloric intake.
10. Reduces stress
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.