4 Unexpected Things That Happen To Your Body When You Start Working Out

As the winter season is coming to a close, I feel like everybody is talking about starting a new fitness regime. But although of course getting into shape can be a direct result of hitting the gym, there are also a lot of other awesome things that happen to your body when you start working out — and things that you might not expect, at that. Your health isn't just a number on a scale, and there are loads of ways exercise can provide some major benefits in all aspects of your life.

Whenever you start a new exercise or health regime, it's important to do your research and talk to your doctor. You only get one body in this life, and it's important to be kind to it. Also, remember that when you begin a new work out or expose your body to new challenges, there's going to be an adjustment period. It's probably going to be tiring, you're probably going to sweat a ton, and you might not see results right away. (If results are what you're looking for, that is; they definitely don't have to be. Whatever reasons you've got for starting a new regime are A-OK, whether they're results-oriented or not). That's why, in my opinion, it's significant to look at the possibly unexpected changes that to happen to your body when you exercise.

Like, for example, these:

1. You Might Experience Better Moods

It's true! A study appearing in Internal Medicine demonstrated that exercise may help depression symptoms. In this study, people who participated in aerobic exercise showed as much improvement in their depression as did people on antidepressant medication. In fact, after four months, between 60 and 70 percent of participants in the study improved so greatly they were no longer classified as suffering from depression. Now, exercise certainly isn't the only way to treat depression, but whether you've been diagnosed with it or not, exercise is apparently a great way to improve your mental health and happiness. Time to throw on some running shoes and take a hike, hit the gym and get your sweat on, take a dance class, or whatever floats your proverbial boat.

2. You May Become More Flexible

Studies show that exercise can improve your flexibility and posture. When it comes to strength, flexibility is a key component that's often under discussed. While I know it's tempting to finish your work out and skip your cool down stretches, it's actually pretty bad for your health. Essentially, when you stretch your muscles, you're lengthening your tendons (muscle fibers) that attach to your bones. So when your muscles become more flexible, they have greater ability to grow and strengthen. Healthy, strong muscles are commonly associated with lower risk of certain injuries. Stretching can also improve your blood circulation.

3. You Might Strengthen Your Brain

Some studies have found that regular exercise also strengthens the brain, which may lead to stronger executive functions such as the ability to think ahead. How's that for a productivity boost?

4. You May (Literally) Add Years To Your Life

According to some research, every minute of exercise could add seven minutes to your life. That's right: Not only does exercise improve your body and mind right now, but it can have long-term effects which go as far into the future as to lengthen your life. Other studies, such as one released from the National Cancer Institute, find that those who engage in physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as four and a half years.

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