6 Surprising Benefits Of Working Out

Most of us think of exercise as a way to drop a few pounds, but there are benefits to working out that are much more important than losing weight — which, by the way, you should only being doing for your own reasons, and not for any particular beauty "goal" you are trying to achieve. Because, surprise: You're already gorgeous just the way you are. Aside from the typical effects, exercise can really impact your mood, your sleep, and even your brain. Keep that in mind when you're lacking motivation, or looking for a way to gain some serious energy.

To reap the many health benefits of working out, you should ideally get about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (like brisk walking) a week, and about 75 minutes of vigorous (such as jogging) aerobic exercise a week, according to the Mayo Clinic. This equals out to about 30 minutes a day. Then, add in two strength training workouts a week, and you're good to go in terms what your body needs to feel its best.

But don't be overwhelmed by thinking of exercise as 30 minutes chunks. If you can't portion that time out, that doesn't mean you should throw in the proverbial towel. Instead, exercise whenever you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car at the far end of the parking lot, and go for a ten minute walk on your lunch break. Anything you can do to move throughout the day will be beneficial.

While it's great to exercise to keep your body strong, don't let that be your only motivating factor. Take a look at this list of other health benefits, and see if it sparks a desire to throw on your running shoes.

1. Exercise Wards Off Scary Health Conditions, Like Heart Disease

No matter what your current weight, exercising will help boost your good cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic, this means your blood will flow smoothly and you'll be less likely to have cardiovascular disease. Exercise can also help manage or prevent depression, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and arthritis. Sounds pretty good to me!

2. Exercise Can Get You Out Of A Crappy Mood

If you're feeling down in the dumps, or you struggle with depression on the daily, you should consider starting a workout routine. It might be tough to motivate yourself, but once you do you'll feel the benefits pretty quickly. That's because exercise releases endorphins in your brain, according to the Mayo Clinic, which are chemicals that help boost your mood. Doing yoga or taking a jog around the park is like popping a free, and natural, antidepressant pill.

3. Exercise Gives You Energy, With No Coffee Required

Exercising makes everything in your body work better, from your muscles, to your heart, to your lungs. When everything functions properly your endurance is boosted, thus giving you more energy. Working out also helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, so your cardiovascular system works more efficiently, according to the Mayo Clinic. Gone will be the days where you had to take a break halfway up a flight of stairs (we've all been there).

4. Exercise Will Help You Sleep For Days

Most of us spend a lot of time sitting (on trains, at desks, on our couches) so it's no wonder it can be difficult to fall asleep at night. Getting up and moving around gets rid of your excess energy and will help you have a better, deeper night of sleep. Working out also helps by reducing stress. So if you've had a long and arduous day, get some exercise and you'll be more likely to sleep like a baby.

5. Exercise Makes You Smarter

Exercising definitely clears your head, but apparently it also makes you smarter. According to Christopher Bergland for Psychology Today, exercise starts a chain reaction that improves your brain health. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute even found a molecule that's released during exercise that improves cognition and protects against brain degeneration.

6. Exercise Can Be Fun (For Real)

For the anti-exercisers out there, this can sound like some kind of joke. But I promise you that exercising can actually be fun. If you hate trudging away on a treadmill or lifting weights in front of a mirror, then... don't. Think outside exercise norms, and instead go for a walk in the park, ride your bike, jump on a trampoline with your little cousin, or take a dance class. Exercise doesn't have to be boring, especially if you incorporate it into something you enjoy.

Many people don't like to exercise because they think it's all about losing weight. But exercise is far more than that, with a multitude of other benefits that are totally worth your time.

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