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Non-Weight-Loss Benefits of Exercise

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We all know that we should exercise to lose weight, but, honestly, if that’s the only reason a person is working out, she’s probably not going to keep it up very long. So, what are the non-weight-loss benefits of exercise?

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In my own personal experience, regular exercise:

Flushes the sluggishness out of your body. Those mornings when I’m stumbling around, having trouble opening my eyes, it would be easy to just crawl back into bed and go back to sleep. However, I know that I’ll continue feeling sluggish and sleepy if I don’t work out.

I used to do several Leslie Sansone videos and in one she referred to just doing a quick, 20-minute workout to wake up your muscles. She’s right – even a quick workout is great for getting your blood flowing. So now, even if I don’t have a lot of time to workout, I do try to start most days with at least a 15 – 20 minute burst of cardio.

Promotes mental health and well-being. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been sad, angry, depressed, or just generally out-of-sorts before working out only to feel so much better afterwards.  They – you know, the all-knowing “they” – say that exercise releases endorphins that make you feel better. I think they’re right.

It also doesn’t hurt when you do whatever you do – run, walk, bike – sans iPod and/or other electronics and use that time to talk with God. That only increases the sense of well-being.

Gives you more energy. It may sound counterintuitive, but I almost always have more energy after I workout than I did before.

Relieves stress. I guess that’s pretty similar to mental health and well-being, but there’s nothing like a good hard run or fast bike ride to relieve stress and that’s certainly better than some of the other stress-relieving options, including overeating.

First Half-Marathon

Relieves menstrual cramps. Okay, if you’re a guy you don’t care about this one, but since 99% of my readers are women, I know y’all do. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself, but cramps are no longer an excuse not to workout because I know I’ll feel better if I do workout.

Improves sleep. I do still suffer for occasional bouts of insomnia, but, for the most part, I sleep better than I used to. I have often heard that exercising can impede your sleep if it’s done too close to bedtime. I have found that to be true. Last year when I was doing long runs late in the evenings, I was often too keyed up to sleep – it’s that whole “exercise gives you more energy” thing, so I don’t encourage late-night workouts.

So, if you’ve been making excuses for not exercising, there are a few more ideas for shooting down those excuses. If you exercise regularly and have found non-weight-loss related benefits of exercise, what are they?

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post! I get up every morning and head to the track. I love how great I feel when I am done. I have been struggling with that after lunch time frame. I can barely keep my eyes open to read aloud to the kiddos. While reading your post, it clicked that after lunch I might benefit from a quick cardio blast. Definitely can’t hurt to try!

    1. Great idea! Nothing puts me into a semi-comatose state quicker than listening to the kids read. I should try just 10 or 15 minutes of cardio beforehand.

  2. I am just getting back on track with my exercise program. I ran three half marathons this fall & kind of burned out. But, I’m ready to get back in shape!

    As far as cramps, I haven’t found that to be the case. Mine get worse. And, I get cramps in my ovaries sometimes while running. Ugh!

    1. I know what you mean about burning out. I ran two half-marathons this fall/winter and it’s been hard to get my running groove back after spending so much time feeling like I had to train. I know I’ll be ready to go again, though, when the weather starts cooling off.

  3. I definitely feel MORE energized on days when I exercise. It’s really good for me mentally too, something about pushing through to the end of the dvd is like motivation to push through stuff I don’t want to do in a day (“I don’t FEEL like unloading the dishwasher” “C’mon Heather – push through the pain!!” lol) I truly believe that somewhere between the extra energy and motivation exercising daily has made me a better housekeeper, weird, right? 😉

    1. I don’t think it’s weird at all. I’ve had those thoughts many times. Pushing through on something hard (running, for me) makes you realize that there really isn’t anything you can’t do if you just do it. (I mean, there are probably things I can’t do no matter what, like sing well, for example, but you know what I mean.)

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