People lace up their running shoes or lift free weights above their heads for a variety of reasons, but regardless of your fitness goal, exercise will affect you in several positive ways. Forget about its simplicity -- even the most basic exercise can do wonders for your body and mind, especially when you stay dedicated to your workout regimen.
Mental Health Benefits
If you feel depressed or could just use a pick-me-up, exercise is a smarter choice than just about anything. When you work out, your body releases endorphins, which quickly help to improve your mood, even if you felt miserable at the start of your exercise. The release of endorphins often creates a euphoric feeling, which is why many people say they experience a high when working out. Exercise also reduces the chemicals in your body that can deepen your depression.
Many people struggle with their body image, regardless of whether they feel too fat or too skinny. Exercise can drastically change not just your body, but also how you view it. As you shed a few pounds of fat or add a couple pounds of muscle, your opinion of yourself can change. If you were shy or introverted because you didn't want people to notice you, you might come out of your shell because you're proud of how you look.
Whether you've started exercising to lose a little weight or want to gain muscle, exercise provides many benefits to your body. Exercise helps you control your weight, which is ideal given that many people work in careers that are largely sedentary. Exercise also reduces your chance of diseases and problems with your heart; by exercising regularly, you're less likely to have high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and even certain types of cancer. People who exercise regularly are also more likely to live long lives.
In addition to the major mental health, psychological and physical benefits of exercise, it affects your life in several other ways. Exercising gives you more energy, as being active helps pump oxygenated blood throughout your body. Additionally, being active can improve your sex life, as exercise can increase your arousal. Exercise is often a social activity, which can impact your life positively, whether you join a sports league with friends or meet that special someone at the gym.
- MayoClinic.com: Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
- Mail Online: First Person: How Exercise Can Transform Your Life
- Harvard Medical School: Benefits of Exercise -- Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Helps Fight Depression, From Harvard Men's Health Watch
- Harvard School of Public Health: Study Finds that Both Weight and Exercise Are Key to Longevity
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.