There’s more to physical fitness than a number on the scale, or trying to squeeze into your favourite pair of jeans. When it comes to exercise, there’s so many reasons to stay active and get your sweat on.
From becoming more confident to improving your heart health and even treating your seasonal allergies (!), here are 30 science-backed reasons to lace up your gym shoes and get moving.
1. You’ll have stronger bones.
Many of us forget about how important our bone health is, especially as we age, but strong bones are essential for staying strong and mobile. According to one study, the best way to build bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis is to do weight-bearing exercises on the regular. Researchers found that people who exercised moderately or strenuously had better bone density than those who exercised little or not at all.
2. You’ll clear up those allergies.
It’s no fun to workout with sneezing, watery eyes, but there’s a good reason to hit the gym even when your allergies are going wild. Researchers reported that running for 30 minutes can reduce sneezing, itching, congestion, and runny nose by up to 90 per cent.
3. You’ll have fewer colds and flus.
Regular exercise boosts our immune system, and a strong immune system means it’s easier to fight germs and viruses. You’ll get sick less often, and when you do, you’ll find you’re sick for less time. (Sounds good to us!)
4. You’ll sleep better.
Aside from exercising and eating a healthy diet, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health — so it’s no wonder they go hand in hand. In a meta-analysis that looked at dozens of sleep studies, researchers found that people who exercised regularly had less insomnia and a higher quality of sleep. And for those people who did suffer from insomnia, adding daily exercise significantly improved their sleep patterns.
5. You’ll be smarter.
So much for the dumb “gym bro” stereotype. Building muscle also helps to build brain cells, and your brain functions better when you are physically active. A meta-analysis of the effects of regular physical activity on the brain found that exercise improves memory, boosts cognition, makes you a faster learner, increases brain volume, and can even make you a better reader. Other recent studies have found that working out helps prevent the cognitive decline as we age and diseases like Alzheimer’s.
6. You’ll feel less stressed. Stress is significantly reduced when your body has a natural release through exercise. Indeed, science says that working out is one of the fastest ways to clear cortisol (a.k.a., the stress hormone), out of your system.
7. You’ll adopt a more positive outlook.
God bless those endorphins! Not only does a workout leave you feeling euphoric, but let’s get real. Generally having more energy, sleeping better, achieving goals, and being less stressed-out will all contribute to a generally more positive outlook in life. That’s the great thing about physical exercise; one great result begets another. Call it the “fitness snowball effect.”
8. You’ll build self-discipline.
Self-discipline is an excellent skill to hone, not just with your workouts, but to positively impact other areas of your life as well. Think about it: if you can get yourself into the habit of going for a run for 30 minutes a day, then you may begin to learn to develop other healthy habits, like eating better.
9. You’ll maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Chronic hypertension is the number one form of heart disease. Exercise helps reduce your blood pressure, which means you’ll have a healthy, strong heart even as you age.
10. You’ll be strong and capable.
Besides helping you lose weight, exercise builds up your muscles, which means you’ll be able to do much, much more. Think about it: If you can beat your bench press personal best, or run that hill in record time, you can pretty much do anything.
11. You’ll be more confident.
It’s not just about how you look (though certainly it doesn’t hurt to love that body you worked so hard for!). Feeling strong, capable and physically fit gives you the self-confidence you need to take on anything — whether you’re flaunting your figure in that new tank top or approaching a potential love interest with ease.
12. You’ll feel accomplished.
Sticking to a regular exercise routine gives you a goal to reach almost every day, which means that you’ll feel accomplished — not just after every workout, but each time you’re able to do more than you were last time. Now that’s a good feeling.
13. You’ll improve your relationships.
Exercising with a friend or hubby adds a social element to your fitness regime, so you build muscle and bond at the same time. But even if you’re working out solo, you’ll find your newfound happiness and confidence may spill over into your existing relationships, too, giving them a shiny new glow.
14. You’ll inspire others.
When you get fit, you may inspire others around you to get healthier, too. Just think of the positive effect you might have on your family and friends (and you might get a workout buddy out of it as a result!).
15. Your life will feel easier.
Carrying groceries? No problem. Helping a friend move? No sweat. Running to catch the bus? You got this. When you’re physically fit, everyday tasks that once seemed daunting become no big deal.
16. You’ll be less bored.
There are so many great workouts out there — from running and strength training to swimming, sports or yoga — that it’s virtually impossible to run out of different ways to be active. Switch things up, try different things, and you’re bound to find a few activities you enjoy. They’ll start to feel more like hobbies than workouts!
17. You might save money.
You don’t need a fancy gym membership or expensive equipment to get out there and get fit. In fact, you may find you spend less money on dining out, booze and bars when you fill your days with free physical activities instead.
18. You’ll be inspired to set more goals (and achieve them).
Setting fitness goals and achieving them may inspire you to do so, over and over again. Whether it’s another fitness goal, like running a marathon, or simply a personal goal, like learning a new language, you’ll feel more inspired to achieve anything you set your mind and body to.
19. You’ll have better posture.
Exercise strengthens your muscles and improves flexibility, which means your posture is likely to improve. Better posture means less back-pain in the future. Plus, you’ll look more confident if you’re standing tall.
20. You’ll live longer.
We didn’t have to tell you this one. Regular workouts can increase your natural lifespan by years (and increase your quality of life, too).
21. You’ll have a healthy heart.
About 2.4 million Canadian aged 20 years and older live with heart disease. Heart disease is also the second leading cause of death in Canada. You can reduce your risk of heart disease by exercising regularly.
22. You’ll be able to indulge, guilt-free.
Exercising burns calories and torches fat, so you can enjoy indulgent foods – like that slice of cake! – with less guilt.
23. You’ll feel more adventurous.
Being in shape means you can say “yes” to adventures you may not have otherwise felt up to. This summer, go kayaking, try rock climbing, or finally do that epic hike you’ve been meaning to.
24. You’ll build endurance.
The more you exercise, the more endurance you’ll have. You’ll stretch the time you have in the day because you won’t be as exhausted or beat by the time you’re finished work. It may sound counter-intuitive, but exercise actually gives you the energy you need to keep pushing through the day.
25. You’ll recover faster.
If you ever suffer from an injury or severe illness, a physically fit body will have a faster and smoother recovery than an out-of-shape one.
26. You’ll have less chronic pain.
Often issues of pain, such as chronic back pain, are relieved by the strengthening of muscles through exercise.
27. You’ll be able to handle difficult emotions better.
Consistently exercising helps to relieve symptoms of depression. Beyond just helping you to temporarily feel happier, the natural endorphins released through regular exercise can improve your overall mental health.
28. You’ll feel younger than your peers.
Exercise can combat and delay some of the effects of aging. Natural degeneration of the bones, muscles and bodily tissues is reduced by regular exercise.
29. You’ll be more productive overall.
Once you get your body active everyday through exercise, your body will stay active afterward, increasing your productivity levels. So, if you’d like to accomplish more at work, jump-start your day with a workout.
30. You’ll breathe easier.
When you exercise, your body takes in more oxygen, helping to improve your circulation and overall health because oxygen is so important. As your lungs have to work to process all that oxygen, they get stronger. Your stronger lungs are less likely to experience lung disease.