5 Reasons You Need to Start Exercising Today
Everyone knows that exercise does a body good, and that regular exercise should be a part of your daily routine. But for many people, it’s difficult to get started, let alone stay motivated.
If you are one of these people, you may be putting off starting an exercise program. Maybe because you want to start it on a Monday or maybe you want to exercise when the kids are in bed or before you go to work. No matter what reason you give yourself for not getting started, it’s just an excuse.
In the back of your mind you know this. We all make excuses, myself included.
Sometimes willpower alone isn’t enough to get you off the couch. You need a bit of motivation to kick you in the ass and get you moving. Well, I’ve got some motivation for you.
Here are 5 reasons you need to start exercising TODAY!
1. You’ll be more productive at work.
So this may not be the best reason for starting an exercise program. I mean, who really wants to be more productive at work unless you absolutely love your job or are self-employed?
But exercising will make dealing with work stress easier. Exercise increases your endorphins and lowers cortisol, a stress hormone as well as a glucocorticoid. Our fight or flight reflex is the result of cortisol, which means when we’re under stress our cortisol levels rise.
In this day and age, with our chronically high levels of stress, our cortisol levels remain high, keeping our body ready to fight, or flee. Chronically high cortisol levels lead to a number of health problems including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, obesity (especially belly fat), low libido, heart disease and other problems.
Exercise helps to lower these cortisol levels because of the endorphins it produces, which are essentially the antidote to cortisol. That makes it easier to deal with the chronic stress at work and gives your mood a significant boost, making your job less agonizing. I know this from personal experience!
2. Improve your immune system
Exercise improves your immune system because immune cells circulate throughout your body faster as your heart rate increases. This allows your immune system to be more effective at detecting viruses and bacteria earlier. There is also evidence that suggests exercise allows the lungs to flush out viruses and bacteria more easily.
When you exercise, your core temperature rises, and this may help prevent bacteria from growing and viruses from replicating, which is typically what happens when you have a fever. And, because exercise decreases cortisol and stress levels, your immune system isn’t overtaxed by unnecessarily high stress levels. That makes it much easier for your immune cells to fight off things like the common cold or the flu.
3. Boost energy levels
It sounds counter intuitive, but it’s true. Regular exercise can boost your overall energy levels long term. In fact, studies have shown that regular moderate exercise can help combat chronic fatigue. There’s a couple of reasons for this.
- You sleep better at night when you exercise regularly.
- Working out boosts your immune system, keeping it in check and keeping you from getting sick (see #2 above)
- Regular exercise improves your endurance and increases your muscle strength.
A study published in the Psychological Bulletin found that 90 percent of the participates who participated in exercise noticed a boost in their energy levels and improvement in their overall levels of fatigue as compared to those who did not participate in an exercise program.
The problem is, if you suffer from chronic fatigue, it’s really hard to get your ass off the couch and go running, no matter how much it will help. I know this from personal experience. In fact, every weekend, I can’t get my lazy ass out of bed to get a workout in for three days straight. I end up sleeping in way past 05:00, my normal workday alarm, despite going to bed at the same time every night.
However, on Monday, I was exhausted and I almost didn’t get up to workout. But I did. Halfway through my workout, I felt energized, and the brain fog I had lifted and I felt great all day. But it was REALLY hard to get out of bed, not to mention how difficult it was to actually start working out.
But I’m really glad I did.
4. Sleep better
There have been plenty of studies that show working out helps you sleep better. Not only does it help you fall asleep faster, but it also helps you stay asleep, which for many people is much more difficult.
A study conducted at Northwestern University found that people who exercised for at least 20 minutes two times a week slept better, had more energy and weren’t as sleepy throughout the day as the control group. Those who participated in physical activity at least twice a week also slept for 1.25 hours more than those who did not exercise.
5. Treat chronic diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure)
Exercise can actually help prevent and reverse high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Here’s how.
In Diabetes type 2, the body becomes resistant to its own insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance. It’s
almost exactly like a drug addict who constantly needs more of his preferred drug to reach the high. But when we’re talking about drugs, it’s called tolerance.
But the same thing happens with insulin. Not only does the sugar in what we eat actually trigger the reward center of the brain, but it causes insulin resistance because blood levels of insulin remain high on a regular basis. Consequently, the cells aren’t able to use the insulin that is produced effectively, which means they can’t use sugar to produce energy effectively either. Exercise helps to prevent this by improving your metabolic flexibility.
What about blood pressure? Exercise lowers blood pressure in three ways:
- By producing endorphins which decrease cortisol (the stress hormone).
- Increasing the strength of the heart and the heart’s stroke volume, allowing the heart to pump more effectively with less effort
- Dilating blood vessels (called vasodilation)
There are a number of other reasons to start working out right away, better sex, look better naked, improve cognitive functioning, need I go on?
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