There’s no denying the importance of exercise.
Whether your goal is to maintain a healthier weight for a healthier heart, to avoid type 2 diabetes or to lower your blood pressure and avoid stroke, mountains of research stack up that point to the long-term health benefits of exercise.
But let’s face it…
When it takes time to see the benefits of hitting the gym or walking the block, it’s hard to stay motivated.
Luckily, there are immediate benefits you can get from breaking a sweat that could help keep you going long enough to grab all the incredible perks exercise has to offer…
#1 – A mood boost
If you’re feeling low, one of the best ways to chase away the blues is to hit the treadmill and walk or jog for just 20 minutes.
Yup, that’s right…
You don’t have to do a high-intensity workout to elevate your mood. In fact, according to a 2011 study published in Sports Medicine, working out too hard could actually cause your pleasure levels to plummet.
Instead, psychologists say to choose a moderate-intensity exercise to get a mood boost within minutes.
#2 – Better rest
Want to sleep like a baby?
Start working out in the morning!
That’s because researchers say that regular morning exercise not only helps improve your sleep rhythm, it also encourages production of melatonin — your body’s sleep hormone.
“Exercising in the morning daylight helps you to sleep. It helps to kick-start the brain in the same way as when you expose yourself to bright light early in the morning, and it makes the body release melatonin earlier in the evening,” says Sofie Laage-Christiansen a scientist from Aarhus University, Denmark, with a Ph.D. in sleep research.
And to get the most from your morning exercise, be sure to head outdoors.
Bright sunshine helps activates the areas of the eye that signal your brain to start pumping out that melatonin earlier in the evening.
This means less time spent tossing and turning, waiting to fall asleep.
And as a bonus, morning exercise has been found to burn more fat and deliver a bigger boost for your metabolism.
#3 – Positive self-esteem
We could all use a little more confidence at times.
And exercise can deliver!
Research reported in The Cochrane Database found that working out provided positive short-term effects on self-esteem in children and young people.
And a second study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that “middle-aged women can enhance how they perceive their condition and body attractiveness” through exercise.
#4 – Improved thinking and reaction time
Working out could even help you solve your problems more quickly, think more clearly, and bring your reaction time down to ninja-like levels.
The key is to skip that high-intensity workout (which has been shown to slow down your reaction time). Instead, choose a moderate-intensity aerobic activity like brisk walking, light cycling, or even vacuuming your house.
#5 – Higher energy
Finally, exercise has even been found to be a great way to kick fatigue to the curb and raise your energy levels.
And a review of 12 separate studies found the relationship between working out and energy to be dose-dependent.
This means that the more often you make it to the gym, the less likely you are to experience low energy and fatigue.
And one quick tip…
While exercise alone is enough to make you feel better, research has shown that adding an enjoyable distraction, like your favorite television show or music that makes you want to get up and dance to your workout is even more powerful! That means if you want to job in place or ride a stationary bike while you work out, or listen to your favorite tunes on a walk, go for it.
If you’re having a hard time making exercise part of your life, here’s how to easily fit your workout into your schedule.
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No Pain – No Gain? Wrong! Mood gains occur with moderate intensity exercise — Psychology Today
Exercise in the morning and sleep better at night — ScienceNordic