What are the benefits of exercise?
I don’t think anyone can disagree that exercise is good for you, and it has some really great impacts for your health and mindset. It used to baffle me that when I talked to my friends and family, they often aren’t heeding their own advice - but it seems there is just simply a lack of education around the real, everyday benefits of exercise. It seems people aren’t fully aware of the extent of the long-term health benefits - but once people understand more about them and understand how will directly impact them - they seem get to that motivation and urge to do that first session.
Personally, the impacts of health and fitness on the mind and body have always interested me. I’ve compiled some of the key benefits below to try and help give you that motivational push to get you started on your own training plan
Helping you lose weight
I’d guess that around 70% of the people I speak to would like to either lose weight or maintain their current weight. Exercising regularly is a great answer to this - every single time you go out walking, running, or to the gym, you’re burning calories. Match this with a good diet and you’ll end up consuming less than what you’re burning off doing all those exercises you love to hate!
If you’ve completed a 4-8 week training plan and reached your weight loss goal at the end of it - give yourself a high-five! The work doesn't stop there however. If you then reduce the amount of exercise you do but keep eating the same food, then slowly but surely the pounds will come back. I’ve been there - reached my target weight and then reduced the intensity of my training plan, skipped a few sessions or had one too many cheesecakes!
Consistency is key. Follow a training plan to help you get started, but then you need to look at your weekly schedule, time commitments and working pattern to find how you can regularly do exercise. Once it becomes ingrained into your weekly plans, you’ll master controlling your weight.
Improving mental health and making you feel happier
Mental health is a key issue being brought more into the light, I have seen it come to the forefront of both my working and personal live and it’s getting the much-needed attention it deserves. Taking part in fitness can really help with your mental health, and it's proven to actually make you feel happier. Hormones called endorphinsare released when you do any form of exercise, and they trigger a similar reaction to morphine within your body, leaving you feeling happier. Taking part in regular exercise can also help to reduce stress and feelings of depression too.
Keeping you sharp and improving your memory
I find it really interesting how exercising on a consistent basis helps your brain - normally people only associate it to your muscles or endurance. There’s a lot of of complex science behind this which I don't fully understand. What does make sense to me however is that exercising helps the body to stimulate multiple growth factors. One of which is the hormones in the brain that links to brain cells and the growth of lots of new blood vessels in the brain.
This means that exercise improves and makes bigger a section of your brain which helps control thinking and memory. That’s great news for your work life too as you’ll be sharper and remember more from those long meetings every week.
Increasing your energy levels
If you’ve ever been struggling to get up a flight of stairs or seem to out of breath just walking through town, regular physical activity can help. It doesn't matter what your shape or size is, taking part in any form of aerobic exercise will help.
Several studies show that people who took part in regular exercise always reported having the feeling of more energy or less fatigue compared to those who didn't exercise. It happens by making your cardiovascular system work more efficiently by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. The end result? You can now go shopping, climb stairs and do all your daily routines with ease.
Reduces the risk of heart disease
This one’s a big deal. I’m certain that, like me, when you’re ill, you’ll have typed in your symptoms online? This can be a bit scary, and normally I start to panic after seeing the results! The risk of developing heart disease is often listed as one of symptoms and is a major factor in many people's lives - you all might know someone who has been affected in one way or another.
Doctors and fitness professionals all agree that being active and healthy helps to reduce the risk of heart disease. People who exercise regularly show a reduced blood pressure, an increase in HDL (the good cholesterol in your body that helps to remove other forms of bad cholesterol), and a decrease in things like triglycerides (which is a type of fat found in your blood).
I want these benefits, what’s next?
Great, you're pumped to start your fitness journey after reading some of the amazing benefits that fitness can have on your mind and body!
We have loads of fun runs, 5k runs and mud runs that might be a perfect start for you. Also take a look at the other posts about ‘How to train for your first 5k’ or ‘Preparing for you first muddy run’ to give you some tips.
If those aren't for you, head down to your local gym or checkout the local park run instead, both are really great and social ways of trying to get fitter. Or if you have a dog like I do, grab the lead and take them out on a nice 30-60 min walk, they’ll love you even more for it and the fresh air is great for thinking up how to start out your new fitness journey