Feel good fitness: 7 health benefits of fitness to keep you motivated
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably on a mission to become a fitter, stronger version of yourself. But you’re only human, and you’re probably coming up against a few bumps in the road and are looking for a little inspiration.
When we decide to make big changes to our lifestyles, it can be rather tricky to stay motivated.
Fitness requires an investment of time and energy, and with our hectic lifestyles it can sometimes be hard to keep hold of the motivation to stay active, especially when we don’t see immediate results or we hit a plateau.
But the good news is that there are countless reasons to keep up your new fitness regime that are enough to keep anyone going, even on the darkest winter days, or when a friend suggests you swap a gym trip for a tempting pub trip.
Today, we’re going to specifically focus on the health benefits of fitness. On all the reasons why staying active will make you feel great. These are the things that will make a genuine, lasting difference to your life.
If you’re only active because you want to lose weight, squeezing into a smaller dress size and seeing a smaller number on the scales, then your new active lifestyle probably won’t be sustainable.
If your main aim is to change your body, then it probably means you’re not exercising out of love for your body, but out of hate for it. But shifting your focus to the physical and mental health benefits will help you commit to an active lifestyle long-term.
If you’re aware of just how far-reaching the impacts of a sedentary lifestyle a poor diet can be, then you’ll be far less likely to lose your motivation or slip back into your old ways. After all, it can be tough, but if you appreciate all the lasting health benefits, then you’ll always know it’ll be worth it. The only workout you’ll ever regret is the one you don’t do.
Whenever you’re starting to lose your motivation, just pop back to this list to find the energy to grab your trainers and go.
1. Exercising can help you sleep better
You know how well you sleep when you’ve had an active day? You wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
If you exercise regularly, then you could sleep like that every night. Aerobic exercise can help you regulate your circadian rhythms, which means your sleep is far better quality.
On top of that, if you’re sleeping well then you’ll have more energy to exercise during the day, and will tend to eat less sugary and fatty foods, so it’s the opposite of a vicious cycle.
2. Exercise charges your batteries
Sleeping well can mean your energy levels are higher, but regular exercise in itself can send your energy levels through the roof.
If you don’t exercise frequently, then even the smallest amount of physical exertion can wipe you out. But the more you do, the more you can do, as your muscles strengthen, your endurance improves and your heart can pump more oxygen around your body.
That can mean that small everyday tasks suddenly don’t seem like so much of an effort, taking a weight off your shoulders.
3. Exercising regularly is a stress buster
We all know that stress can have a huge negative effect on us. We’re all animals deep down, so our bodies are programmed to have a flight or fight reaction to situations our brains judge to be dangerous.
Modern life can mean we’re constantly experiencing that fight or flight and our bodies are on high alert, with high levels of cortisol and adrenaline coursing around our systems.
Your body can’t cope with sustained stress and it can lead to everything from digestive issues and weight gain to headaches and depression.
Exercise is one of the best ways to keep your stress levels down and avoid its long-term health impacts.
4. An active lifestyle can ease symptoms of depression
It’s been shown that exercise can help people that suffer with depression manage their symptoms.
When you’re suffering with depression, exercise can seem like the last thing you want to do, but if you can push yourself to do it then it can make a massive difference.
It can also help you prove to yourself that you’re capable of breaking the cycle and that you’re the one in control, not your depression.
Even 30 minutes of aerobic exercise has been shown to boost the mood of someone experiencing severe depression.
5. And it can improve your self-esteem
We all have little voices in our heads that are ready to tell us why we’re not good enough. And sometimes, what you need is evidence to the contrary. Being consistently active is something you can be proud of, which can boost your self-esteem and your mental health.
The feeling of achievement can make you feel mentally stronger and in a place to take other positive decisions about your health and lifestyle. Progressing with your fitness and being able to do things with your body that you never dreamed possible will make you think that, just maybe, you could achieve remarkable things in other areas of your life.
6. Physical exercise improves your immune system
Your body’s immune system is what it uses to defend itself against infectious organisms, which is great.
But the bad news is that if you don’t get enough fruit and veg, sleep too little, drink too much alcohol and too little water, don’t move enough and experience high levels of stress then that system is going to suffer.
Doing more physical exercise, as well as improving other areas of your lifestyle, can mean you’re more able to fight off nasty germs. If you’re one of those people that has a constant cold from November to April, then this should be motivation enough to make changes.
7. Exercising means a lower risk of certain cancers and heart disease
It’s been shown that regular exercise is a great life insurance policy.
Studies have shown that eating well and exercising regularly lowers your risk of developing certain types of cancer and heart diseases.
Of course, nothing’s fool-proof, but you owe it to your body to give it the best possible chance of avoiding these life-shortening diseases.
On top of that, regular exercise can help prevent diabetes and arthritis, to name just two.
Adapting to and maintaining a regular exercise regime can feel like an uphill struggle, but you’ve got all the willpower you need to make it happen.