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We all know that exercise is great for us, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get up for an early morning run or head for the gym after work when the couch is calling your name. A lot of the reasons we exercise are to tone up and build muscle, lose weight, boost our health, and to look better, but these benefits don’t happen overnight. It’s hard to get excited about the benefits we could see in the coming months when we’re wired to constantly expect some kind of instant gratification too; experiments using money and candy have shown that most people will choose a smaller prize now rather than wait for a bigger prize later. However, as well as the long term benefits of exercise, there are some great perks that you’ll notice straight away. Here are the top ten INSTANT benefits of exercise for all of you who hate to wait!
Whether it’s just not feeling quite yourself or chronic depression, exercise has been shown to be an extremely effective mood booster. One study found that depression sufferers who did aerobic exercise showed just as much improvement in their symptoms as people on medication. And, these mood-lifting benefits can be seen straight away; 20 minutes of exercise is enough to elevate your mood and increase feelings of positivity. The workout doesn’t even have to be intense, so choose an exercise you like and ride the exercise high for hours!
While we’re on the subject of highs, whether your particular addiction is soda, coffee, sugar or cigarettes, exercise could play a role in helping you to resist these. In one study, scientists found that the endorphin rush released during exercise acts on the same neural pathways as addictive substances. Replacing your donut addiction with an exercise addiction sounds pretty healthy to us!
Feeling a little uninspired? Go for a walk! A recent study found that walking improved both convergent and divergent thinking, the two types associated with enhanced creativity.
In immediate terms, exercise boosts energy and motivation for the day ahead, but a recent study found that once it gets to bedtime, those who exercise in the morning were found to fall asleep quicker and enjoy a better quality of deep sleep, which leaves you feeling more rested and also helps to boost weight loss, as we explain here.
A study by Penn State University found that those who exercise regularly are more likely to report feeling happier, more excited and with more enthusiasm than those who don’t exercise. So, instead of just focusing on what exercise can give you in the long term, you should also appreciate the day to day positive vibes it can inspire in you!
Those who work out can often look younger and healthier than their non-exercising peers, but it’s never too late to start seeing the physical benefits of a healthy workout session. Due to the increase in blood and oxygen pumping around your body, the release of feel-good endorphins and that post-exercise glow, you’ll start to look better immediately - well, after a shower that is!
Whatever you’re worried about, exercise is the perfect way to get out your frustrations. Scientists report that this is because working out is one of the fastest ways to clear the stress hormone cortisol out of your system and calm down an anxious mind. This also helps you to avoid resorting to emotional eating, which not only doesn´t help to reduce stress, it can lead to weight gain and further triggers for stress, low mood and anxiety.
We all want to feel great about ourselves, and it seems that exercise could hold the key to boosting self-esteem and confidence. Researchers in Norway found that participants who exercised regularly showed immediate improvements in self-esteem in the period directly after exercise. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that exercisers report higher self-esteem and fewer negative thoughts about their bodies than non-exercisers, and that this in turn boosts confidence in other areas of your personal and professional life. However, before we start to see and feel the results of exercise in the attitude towards our bodies, it’s thought that the sense of achievement you feel after exercise is what initiates this self-esteem boost.
As well as boosting creative thinking, exercise also helps our problem-solving abilities and our reaction time – just what you need for a productive day at work! But, don’t work yourself into the ground with intense exercise as physical fatigue can make your reactions slower.
Being able to exercise is a benefit in itself; think about what you would miss if you could no longer do it – run, swim, dance, or just walk. So, why aren’t you doing it now? Start with an exercise you genuinely like and build from there - actually enjoying the exercise you’re doing makes it more likely you’ll come back for more, so think positive and focus on the fun factor rather than worrying about how many calories you’re burning. And, for added inspiration, check out these great ways to make exercise more fun!
So, here you have ten great reasons to exercise, and these are all in addition to the obvious benefits of getting healthier and stronger, losing weight and toning up! What are you waiting for? Go get fit!