5 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

by Maggie Puniewska

Exercise is often sought out when one wants to get slim or toned, but working out has some pretty awesome side effects: It can beat stress, keep anxiety and depression at bay, cut the risk of about a jillion diseases, and improve sleep quality.

There are a ton of other ways a sweat session can rev up your life (yes, there's more!). Read on to uncover the hidden perks of exercise, and you'll think twice about trading that CrossFit class for post-work boozing.

Improve Your Orgasm

Is your mojo slacking in the sack? Amp it up with a quick hit of cardio. Research from the University of Texas at Austin found that female study participants were 169 percent more aroused while watching a short porn movie after 20 minutes of vigorous cycling, compared to watching it without the workout. Exercise boosts blood flow into your lady bits, increasing arousal.

Get Smarter

A little movement can give you a serious brain power boost. Research from Dartmouth College found that exercise increased production of the BDNF protein, which is related to learning, memory, and mental acuity. You don't even need to spend hours at the gym; the study found that even moderate walking will do the trick.

Build Memory Power

Not only does working out make you all-around sharper, it helps you remember information and retain skills better. One study found that exercise promoted skill retention for 24 hours after and up to seven days following a workout.

Hike Up Creativity

If you've hit a wall with an office project, or are a starving artist in need of some inspiration, breaking a sweat is one way to get the creative juices flowing. A recent study in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that regular exercise increases creativity. Participants who fit in a workout had higher levels of divergent thinking (coming up with multiple solutions to a problem), as well as convergent thinking (honing in on the correct solution).

Boost Your Productivity at Work

Sure, a stack of lattes might spur you to power through those spreadsheets, but so can some gym-time (plus, you'll spare yourself the caffeine jitters and crashing). One study found that employees who fit in a workout got more work done, even if they used work time to work out. Even your employer benefits when you exercise -- now there is no excuse to ditch lunchtime spin class.

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