For many of us, a fitness routine is for getting into better shape and perhaps losing a little weight. But did you know that these aren’t the only benefits to having an exercise routine? Continue on below to learn more about the non-obvious benefits of scheduling in some exercise every day!
- Better Stress Management
Working up a sweat on a jog doesn’t exactly make you think of calmness – but studies like this one from Frontiers in Physiology found that exercise can really make a difference in how you’re able to handle stressful situations. In that particular study, they found that people who regularly exercised had a smaller decline in a positivity during stressful times than those who did not. In case you weren’t aware, over the long run, stress can make you more prone to several conditions, including anxiety, digestive issues, depression, high blood pressure, sleeping problems and more.
- Relieve Anxiety
Sometimes all it takes to get out of your head is a quick walk outside or playing a round of badminton. Exercise helps with anxiety in a number of ways. It helps to distracts you from whatever’s making you anxious, decreases your muscle tension and helps with the release of chemicals in your brain such as serotonin which are key in relieving anxiety and feeling happier.
- Better Memory
Exercise isn’t all about working out your muscles – it helps work out your brain too. Studies like this one published in Frontiers of Psychology found that exercise of moderate intensity is associated with working memory and cognitive flexibility. You use your working memory, for example, when you’re repeating to yourself what time your doctor’s appointment until you can reach a pen and paper to write it down. As for cognitive flexibility, you can think of it as being able to adapt your behavior better to the environment or situation.
- Improved Immune System and Gut Health
In addition to everything we’ve talked about so far, exercise can also help ward off illness. An article from published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science summarizes what there is to know about this quite well: with exercise, there comes anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. As you might already know, inflammation is a response to injury or infection; antioxidants protect your body against free radicals, which damage and age us. In addition to this, it’s also been found that exercise diversifies the bacteria found in your gut – generally, a more diverse arrangement of gut bacteria is associated with better health. Take note, however, that overexercising without sufficient rest is never a good idea and may actually make you more likely to become ill.
- Better Productivity
If you feel like you’re in a slump at work, a little bit of exercise in the workplace could solve that, says one article published in Preventive Medicine Reports. Overall, it was found that practicing workplace exercise was positively associated with more work engagement. Fun fact: Google has in-office gyms, likely because of the positive associations between exercise and productivity.
- Better Creativity
For artists and writers, nothing is worse than art block and writing block. Exercise might be one way to get out of such ruts though – this study found that getting in some body movement everyday had an association with being able to think more creatively.
- Better Body Image and Self Esteem
Many of us can be hard on ourselves about how our bodies look. While exercise shouldn’t be the sole determinant of whether you feel good about yourself or not, there are studies (such as this one) find that physical activity and self esteem are both directly and indirectly associated. If you’ve been wanting to improve your body image, it’s worth trying out any kind of exercise you think you can handle.
- Better Sleep
If you’re the type that doesn’t sleep very well, exercise could be one way to get a better rest at night. This review post published in Advances in Preventative Medicine went through several studies and found that many of these studies concluded that exercise is associated with better sleep quality and/or duration. Generally, regardless of the type or intensity of exercise, better sleep is possible through exercise.
Pearl Tsui is both a writer and nursing student who writes on anything from mental health posts to environmental awareness posts. When she’s not writing or in the classroom, you can find her outside on nature walks.