Sure, weight loss is a big motivator for a lot of gym goers, but the benefits of working out go way beyond what you see in the mirror. Adopting a holistic approach will have you seeing your selfie in a new light.
1. Curb chronic illness
An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report warns those who do not undertake 150 minutes of exercise per week have a greater risk of developing a range of chronic diseases, but increasing physical activity can reverse the risk. As reported in an analysis of 174 studies published in the British Medical Journal, physical activity lowers the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and bowel cancers. The greater the level of activity, the lower the risk.
2. Boost your brain
Improved learning and mental performance, memory, attention and information processing are instant brain boosting effects brought on by exercise. A study by the University of Georgia found that a session of around 60 minutes or slightly less of physical activity provided optimal functioning. In the long term, being active also helps prevent age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
3. Stress less
In a finding published in the international Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, scientists at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet studied the effects of exercise on the brain and found that the stress relieving hormones responsible for creating that bliss post-exercise state known as “runner’s high” act as a natural antidepressant.
4. Up-skill your life
Anyone who’s ever done a Body Attack class knows that coordination plus cardio keeps you on your toes. Learning new skills in challenging but enjoyable ways is stimulating for the body, mind and soul. Why not add a new class or skill to your personal inventory and see where it takes you?
5. Make over your self-image
Studies show that girls who are physically active report having better body image – they learn to value their bodies for functional aspects and not purely for aesthetics. There’s no doubt exercise can play a crucial role in developing a positive identity; one study published in the Journal of Health Psychology goes so far as to suggest that exercise boosts body image, even before significant physical changes materialise.
6. Move it to snooze it
The Sleep Health Foundation says the tiredness induced through an active lifestyle improves sleep quality by promoting physical and mental relaxation at the end of the day. Exercise not only helps you to get to sleep, but stay asleep.
7. Build positive habits
How many days does it take to develop a new habit? The magic number is 66, according to a UK health behaviour study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. Regardless of what your personal number may be, every time you choose to set foot in the gym, you are strengthening your dedication to a healthy lifestyle.
8. Spruce up your social life
“Surround yourself with people you admire,” says every self-help book. Those who exhibit traits you seek personally can lift you to greater heights and help you to stay true to your values and goals. Connecting with motivated like-minded individuals also provides an empathetic network for celebrating successes and picking each other up when times are tough. And did we mention working out with mates is always more fun?
9. Function fearlessly
From carrying groceries to pushing prams, walking up stairs or lugging library books, the fitness and muscle tone created in the gym not only improve quality of life into old age, but they enhance the body’s functionality in carrying out everyday tasks.
10. Get your glow on
Pricey potions may promise to take years off your complexion, but exercise offers a major bonus for your skin – and a free one, at that. Increasing your heart rate delivers nutrient and oxygen rich blood to your body’s largest organ, flushing out toxins and giving you an all round healthy glow.