We’ve all heard it countless times – if you want to lose weight, exercise more. Though this advice is true, it focuses our efforts on weight loss alone. That’s something that can be really difficult for some people. That mentality might make them feel as though there is no real point to exercise. If they aren’t losing weight (or losing the amount they want to lose), what’s the use? Even if you aren’t losing weight, or if you DON’T want to lose weight, exercise is good for everyone. There’s a long list of benefits to getting in some sweat time that have nothing to do with the numbers on your scale. Let’s talk about reasons to exercise that AREN’T weight loss!
**Please consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have concerns about your heart health.
Lower Numbers Not on the Scale
One of the main benefits to regular exercise that most people don’t think about is their cholesterol. It may be difficult to use your cholesterol levels as incentive to work out. After all, you can’t actually see them unless you have a blood test, but they’re important. People with higher LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind – think of “L” for “lethal” or “lousy”) have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Exercise can help you lower that number. As for your HDL cholesterol (the good kind – think “H” for “healthy or “happy”), exercise can help you increase that number and improve your health.
Decrease Your Disease Risk
If you have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or certain types of cancer, exercise can help with that, too. Studies have found that regular work outs help stave off chronic disease and may even help you manage conditions you already have. Just know that it is okay to start slowly and gradually increase the time and intensity that you spend exercising.
Improve Your Mental Health
First, let’s fully acknowledge that some people need medication to manage their mental illness and there is nothing wrong with that. But exercise can also help with depression, anxiety, and more. It can even help lower stress levels for those with or without a diagnosed mental illness.
Get Better Sleep
Have you ever watched a kid play hard all day long and sleep like a log? Exercise can do the same thing for you. Though scientists aren’t exactly sure why, research indicates that regular aerobic activity improves sleep by increasing the amount of time a person spends in the deep sleep phase. That’s the period of sleep that increases immunity, improves heart health, and reduces stress and anxiety.
A Different Kind of Happy Hour
If you’re looking for a way to socialize that doesn’t involve consuming a ton of calories, why not invite your friends for a long walk in a trendy new neighborhood, or on a local trail? You don’t have to walk that fast to reap the benefits, as long as you walk for several minutes. Catching up over a walk is fun and you might be able to maintain social distance!
Hopefully these points will give you enough reason to lace up your sneakers. There’s nothing wrong with exercising to lose weight, but it can take time and effort for that to happen. Some of these other benefits will take place much more quickly and don’t require you to slog it out in the gym for hours and hours. There are plenty of reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss. You’re worth every one of them.