By: Susan Treadway
Everywhere you turn, there are magazines, products and foods pitching a fit lifestyle. If the only knowledge you had of physical fitness was what is sold to you, you’d think the only point in being active is to get six-pack abs. However, physical fitness is about so much more than appearances. Here are five reasons to get active that have nothing to do with your looks.
1. Become More Capable: When you’re young, moving through life is easy. But as you age, aches and pains start to creep up on you. Eventually, everyday tasks become challenging. But that path isn’t inevitable. By living an active lifestyle that includes aerobic and strength-training exercise, you can build and maintain a fit and capable body throughout your life.
2. Relieve Stress: Exercise is the most effective natural stress reliever. Exercise doesn’t just distract you from what’s stressing you out, it affects your brain to make you feel better. When you exercise, your body releases neurotransmitters that, as the Daily Burn puts it, “bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being.” Over time, a fitness regimen increases your body’s ability to cope with stress, so that work deadline is less likely to keep you up at night. Unburdened by stress, it’s easier to live life as your happiest, most confident self.
3. Get Smarter: Feeling the pressure at work or school? Exercise can help you out. As The Guardian reports, the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls learning and memory, grows as people get fitter. Aerobic exercise in particular influences the hippocampus. Other studies have shown that exercise improves concentration and creativity and fends off cognitive decline in old age — but you have to start now to reap the greatest benefits.
4. Fight an Addiction: When you’re less stressed and more focused, it’s easier to make good choices in everyday life. That’s why exercise is lauded by those in the addiction recovery sector. In addition to helping people in drug and alcohol recovery overcome cravings and build confidence for the future, exercise also helps heal the body after a period of neglect. Online, you’ll find countless inspirational stories from former addicts who turned their lives around through fitness.
5. Protect Your Mental Health: Exercise improves your mood, reduces your stress, minimizes pain and strengthens your brain all add up to one huge benefit: better mental health. Regular exercise protects the brain against mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. For people living with mental illness, physical activity is an effective tool for reducing symptoms across a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and dementia.
Hopefully, this list has motivated you to achieve a more active lifestyle. However, it’s important to note that you won’t get these benefits after a single session at the gym. Reaping the benefits of physical fitness requires maintaining a healthy fitness routine for the long-term. If you struggle with committing to exercise, these tips can help:
There are a thousand reasons to live an active lifestyle. Sometimes, making a change in your life is simply a matter of finding the motivation that connects with you. If losing weight or growing muscle doesn’t inspire you to hit the gym, the prospect of a stronger mind and happier life just might be the push you need.
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