When it comes to working out, most of us tend to stick to a routine in an effort to gain energy or feel good. However, exercising has benefits that extend beyond what you may think, and these perks can range from improving our mental health to boosting our brain activity. Knowing what type of workouts can improve more than just our bodies can help us tailor our workout routines to best fit our greater health goals.
"Setting achievable fitness goals will help you build confidence and keep your mind at ease," says Blink Fitness personal trainer Ellen Thompson to Bustle over email. A survey commissioned by Blink Fitness and conducted online by Harris Poll showed that 90 percent of Americans who say they exercise identified their top three benefits from working out as non-physical, stating it makes them healthier (49 percent), makes them feel good (35%), and it helps them deal with stress/anxiety (24 percent).
It can be motivating knowing that working out can do so much more for your body than give you abs of steel. If you're trying to pick out the right workout for you, consider these eight exercises that do more than just whip you into shape.
We all know that cardio is a great way to burn energy, but going for a jog or hitting the treadmill can also boost your mental health. "Cardio exercises boost the chemical release of endorphins, which reduce the perception of pain and triggers positive feelings," says Thompson. " As a result, this relieves the stressors that are often distractions from your daily life
2. Strength Training
"Strength training exercises help connect the mind and body — which increases confidence and helps boost one’s mood," says Thompson. In addition, strength training protects bone health and muscle mass, helps protects against diabetes, improves your energy levels as well as mood, according to Everyday Health.
Yoga is best known for its ability to improve your flexibility and create strong muscles, but it can do much more than that. Practicing yoga can help fight off anxiety and depression, treat back pain, fight off heart disease, improve asthma, and even protect against arthritis, according to Everyday Health.
4. High-Intensity Interval Training
HIIT is great not only for getting fit, but it's good for fighting chronic diseases, including improving cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and mechanical functions, according to The New York Times. It also significantly boosts levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps improve brain health, according to research from the Journal of Applied Physiology.
It might not seem very intensive, but pilates can balance out your core muscles, ease back pain, help improve concentration, and even improve your orgasms, according to Fitness Magazine. Engaging in pilates can also help enhance your other workouts, as you use a number of muscles in the practice.
Dancing is a good time, but it also can help boost your memory, reduce stress and depression, improve your heart health, and increase your energy, according to Everyday Health.
With hiking, you get all the benefits of cardio — and more. Because hiking involves being outside, it is a great way to boost your energy as well as improve your mood, according to WebMD. It can also help improve your bone density as well as your balance.
8. Tai Chi
This form of exercise often described as "meditation in motion," can help improve brain volume, which leads to improved cognition, according to a study from Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The practice can also help fight against osteoarthritis as well as anxiety and depression, according to Prevention.
No matter what type of workout you just, exercising can vastly improve your overall health, so make sure to fit it in at least a few times a week, if not more.
Images: Pixabay (7); Isla Murray/Bustle