This blog post is a continuation of Monday’s post….
11. It adds years to your life…
People who exercise live longer. Yeah, we said it. Research has shown that you can add up to seven years to your life by exercising a minimum of 150 minutes a week (that’s just three days of working out for 50 minutes), regardless of what you weigh.
12. … And life to your years.
Even better, those extra years will be happy ones: A recent study found that people who exercise reported feeling happier, more excited, and had more enthusiasm for life than their couch-potato peers.
13. It makes you respect your body.
It’s supremely easy to focus on the six-pack abs or bikini bridges or other (possibly unattainable) physical attributes. But instead of getting caught up in comparisons, lace up your shoes and head to the gym. Using our bodies not only strengthens them but builds our gratitude for all the cool stuff they can do, and research supports this. After all, being an athlete has nothing to do the mirror—it’s about how your body can move.
14. It strengthens bones.
Bone density may not be the sexiest subject, but we all should be aware of it, especially as it helps us maintain a strong and mobile body. And according to one landmark study, the best way to build bone density and reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis into old age is to do weight-bearing exercises like running or dancing. (But really any weight-bearing sport will do, even “wife-carrying,” if that’s your thang.) The researchers found that adults who exercised moderately or strenuously had better bone density than those who exercised little or not at all. Keep it up though: Adults who quit exercising later in life lost bone mass even if they’d exercised regularly earlier in their youth.
15. It saves money.
We know. Gym memberships are expensive. Home equipment can be an investment. And have you priced running shoes lately? But it turns out that investing in your fitness is as frugal as it is smart. One Fortune 500 company estimates that for each dollar spent on preventative health, including exercise, it saves $2.71 in future health costs. That’s a wise practice to for you to adopt as the CEO of your health too.
16. It helps your fertility.
Is there a baby in your future? Better hit the weight floor. Harvard researchers found that men who exercised had a higher concentration of sperm in their semen and that the sperm was of better-than-average quality. Women also get a boost in fertility from getting their run (or kettlebells or yoga or… ) on. A meta-analysis looking at nearly 27,000 women found that those who worked out had lower rates overall of infertility, higher rates of implantation, and lower rates of miscarriage. One caveat: Women who exercised too strenuously or too much impaired their fertility, so it’s all about balance. Researchers advise hitting the gym three times a week for an hour each time.
17. It makes you a sex god or goddess.
Good news for both ladies and gents: Sweating in the gym can improve your sweating in the bedroom. But in this case women really score (ahem), as certain exercises have been linked to “coregasms,” or getting an orgasm from doing abs work. (Strong abs and strong orgasms? It’s win-win.) But even if hanging leg raises don’t send you into ecstasy, you still benefit from increased strength in your pelvic floor. And a separate study found that men who work out have a lower incidence of impotency and erectile dysfunction while experiencing more powerful orgasms. Plus these guys reported having sex more often.
18. It improves self-esteem.
Mirror, mirror on the (gym) wall, who’s the fairest of them all? It doesn’t take magic to know that working out makes you look better on the outside. But scientific research adds that it also makes us feel better about ourselves on the inside. In an analysis of research on the subject, exercisers report higher self-esteem and lower incidence of negative thoughts about their bodies. Plus it boosts confidence at work and other in areas of life too.
19. It helps you sleep like a baby (or puppy).
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Snoozing helps your body recover and repair damage, renews your energy, and clears out your mind. But sometimes sleep does not come easily, oftentimes on the nights you need it the most. Exercise is like all-natural Ambien (minus the freaky sleep-driving stories). In a meta-analysis that looked at dozens of sleep studies, researchers found that people who exercised regularly had less incidence of insomnia and a higher quality of sleep. In addition, for people who did suffer from insomnia, adding consistent daily exercise significantly reduced their sleepless nights.
20. It doesn’t just make you look younger, it makes you be younger.
Thanks to that sweaty glow and leftover runner’s high, people who work out often look younger than their friends, and now research has found that exercisers truly are younger, on a cellular level, than their same-aged peers. Telomeres, the cap on the ends of DNA, start out long at birth and get progressively shorter with age. Up until recently it was thought there wasn’t much we could do to change that, but a new study showed that endurance athletes have longer telomeres than their peers, while a second study found that moderate exercise can lengthen your telomeres by up to 10 percent. So now you can feel free to lie about your age with impunity!
21. It pumps you up.
Hey there, He-Man (or She-Ra)! You don’t need a scientist to tell you that working out builds muscle and coordination. If you’ve ever needed to lift a 50-pound bag of cat litter off the bottom shelf at the grocery store or shovel two feet of snow off a driveway, you’ll be grateful for all the sweat sessions that make it look—and feel—like a cakewalk. (It’s just part of being an everyday hero.)
22. It blasts bad fat and boosts good fat. (Yes, there is good fat!)
In our fat-phobic society, the squishy stuff is public enemy No. 1. But not all fat is problematic. Brown fat is a metabolic boon, and hip and thigh fat in women has some possible hormonal benefits too. But the one kind you definitely don’t want is visceral fat, the type in your midsection packed around internal organs, which can do a ton of damage. Exercise to the rescue! We know busting a sweat can reduce fat in general, but belly fat is particularly susceptible to exercise, and a study from last year found that high-intensity interval training blasted belly fat the fastest.
That’s it for this week, but we are only halfway through, so catch up next week for the rest of the awesome reasons getting healthy is worth the time. Stay tuned!