When you’re working hard to reach a weight loss goal it’s easy to make that the soul focus of the hard work that you’re putting in to changing your lifestyle. But, there are many rewarding things to come from exercising – beyond just weight loss. If these reasons we list here aren't enough, people who diet or exercise with the sole intention of losing weight quit a lot sooner than people who make healthy changes for other reasons, according to this study1.
So, let’s look at the big picture. The whole picture. Because if your primary reason is weight loss, there’s more you should consider that will help you stay on the right track. Here are 8 science-backed reasons for you to exercise, beyond just losing the extra weight.
Exercise Can Give You a Boost in Creativity
This should be especially helpful for those of us (ahem, not mentioning any names) who can sometimes suffer writer’s block – or any creative block! Talking a walk may help improve convergent and divergent thinking; both of which are associated with enhanced creativity, according to a study2 anyway.
Workouts are an Antidepressant
A study found that those who suffer from depression can benefit from aerobic exercise3 and showed as much improvement in their symptoms as though taking medication. How well did this work out? Well, it seems as though 60 to 70% of the participants could no longer be classified as having depression. And, if that’s not enough, a follow-up of the study found that the effects of exercise lasted longer than those from the traditional medication.
Exercise Helps Protect Your Eyes
Our technology has given us so much… including eye strain. Hi there, I’m talking to you, looking at a screen right now. Research has found that one of the best ways to protect your eyes4 is regular cardio. In the study performed, active mice kept twice as many retinal neurons as those that were sedentary. But, this wasn’t just for mice. Another study found that there is a similar correlation in humans.
Exercise Reduces the Symptoms of PMS
Women are always looking for something to help with these awesome (yeah, right) symptoms of PMS. Could cardio be the answer? Perhaps! Another study found that teenage girls who performed 60 minute cardio sessions three times a week reported their symptoms from PMS were better5. Enough so that the researchers concluded that exercise should be prescribed as a cure for PMS. Whoa!
Workouts Reduce Temptation
Sugar, Cigarettes, Carbs… whatever the temptation may be, exercise would help you to resist the temptation of choice. Scientists found that the endorphin rush that is released during exercise acts on the same neural pathways as addictive substances. In a study conducted6 with mice it was found that the mice opted for the treadmill over a high from an amphetamine-laced solution. This suggests that humans could do the same!
Exercising Makes You Smarter
Oh yeah, that’s real. A meta-analysis of the effects of exercise on the brain found that fitness improves memory7, boosts cognition, helps you learn faster, increases brain volume, and even makes you a better reader. And just in case that’s not enough to get you moving, further research8 also shows that working out helps prevent the cognitive decline as we age and diseases like Alzheimer's.
You Gain Respect for Your Body
On the surface, it might sound crazy that while learning how out-of-shape you are, you can also gain self-respect. But, give it some time and what you can’t do will turn into something that’s easy to do… and you'll also learn how to respect your body's capabilities. Regular exercise will help you to strengthen your body while helping you appreciate all the cool things it can do. In fact, research supports this idea of respecting your body9, too.
Exercise Also Helps You Improve Self-Esteem
Because respecting your body isn’t enough on its own – exercise helps you improve your self-esteem10 according to research gathered from one study. Over the course of 20 weeks, participants who exercised reported higher self-esteem and fewer instances of negative thoughts about their bodies.
The Bottom Line
Exercising and choosing a lifestyle that includes regular fitness is a fantastic goal to have. One that we strongly support. But, when science shows that those who only have weight loss as a reason to be more fit, they fail, well… we don’t want to see that happen. There are so many wonderful benefits that come from just getting up and moving. All these reasons should be among your reasoning to be fit, and there’s more reasons than just these, too. Get up – get going – feel better about yourself and be more successful with your weight loss goals.