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Physical and Mental Benefits of Exercise

The Best Reasons You Should Exercise Today

The following post was originally featured on Jill Conyers which is part of POPSUGAR's influencer network.

Everyone needs to reorganize and reprioritize their lives so that we put our health first by making the time for regular exercise.

No matter how busy life gets or how mentally challenging the day has been, a workout always makes you feel better. It clears the head, detoxifies, and adds peace and balance to the day.

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I exercise at least five days a week almost without fail. It's a nonnegotiable part of my life. Why? Sure, it's good for me, but the biggest motivator is, I love the way it makes me feel: fit, healthy, energized, and positive.

Why you Should Exercise Today

Energy

To help make meeting the physical and mental demands of everyday life easier. And, if that's not enough, to help you run faster, dance longer, and play harder.

Flexibility

Over time, flexibility can decrease by up to 50 percent, making it harder to squat down, bend over, and reach behind you, but in a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that three full-body workouts a week for 16 weeks increased flexibility of the hips and shoulders, helping to make daily life activities easier and more functional. If the stats aren't convincing enough, regular exercise helps to keep you strong, youthful, and feeling great.

Instant Therapy

Regular exercise helps you alleviate the stress in your day, leaving you calm, relaxed, and peaceful, but with increased energy. In fact, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham discovered that people who performed three workouts a week for six months significantly improved their scores on measures of anger and overall mood.

Quality Sleep

To help you fall asleep more easily, wake up feeling more refreshed, and feel the benefits of a good night's sleep.

Helps to Manage Your Weight

Exercise speeds up your metabolism by creating more muscle, and more muscle means burning more calories.

Self-Esteem

University of Florida reports that negative body image has grown to almost epidemic proportions over the past 20 years, with as many as 60 percent of adults in national studies saying they don't like the way their bodies look. The simple act of exercise and not fitness itself can convince you that you look better.

Fight Depression

Scientists at the University of Sydney found that regular exercise significantly reduces symptoms of major depression. They reported that a meaningful improvement was seen in 60 percent of clinically diagnosed patients, similar to the response rate from antidepressants. The American Psychological Association reports that the effects of physical activity extend beyond the short-term. Research shows that exercise can also help alleviate long-term depression.

Live Longer

PLOS Medicine reports that just 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week increases life expectancy by 3.4 to 4.5 years.

Happiness

Exercise increases dopamine, a chemical in the brain that's associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness. Exercise also releases the feel-good chemical that promotes happiness: endorphins. The American Psychological Association reports that usually within five minutes after moderate exercise, you get a mood-enhancement effect.

All the mental and physical benefits of exercise and yet, the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition reports that less than 5 percent of adults participate in physical activity each day and only one in three children are physically active everyday.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 25 percent of the U.S. population reported zero leisure-time physical activity.

The research also shows:

  • More than 80 percent of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80 percent of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
  • The national average for regular exercise is 51.6 percent.
  • Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, video games, computer).
  • Only six states (Illinois, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, and Vermont) require physical education in every grade, K-12.
  • 28 percent of Americans, or 80.2 million people, age 6 and older, are physically inactive.
  • Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for three or more hours on an average school day.
  • SO IF EXERCISE IS SO GOOD FOR US AND MAKES US FEEL GOOD, WHY ARE RELATIVELY FEW PEOPLE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE?

    The hardest part of exercising is getting started, but once you get into a regular routine, you won't want to stop.

    We're not talking about a quick fix here. There is no magic powder or supersmoothie. We're talking about long-lasting, maintainable changes from a reboot of old habits to reap the lifelong physical and mental benefits of exercise.

    Find the motivation that works for you. Ease into it slowly, and gradually build up to a regular exercise habit until exercise becomes a part of your weekly routine.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio
Product Credit: Mara Hoffman bra and leggings
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