There are so many reasons not to make weight loss the focus of your fitness regime.
For a start, exercise is actually a lousy way to lose weight. If you make weight loss your main goal, you may fail to reach your goal, and then you will quickly lose motivation and likely will stop exercising.
But really, if you think about it, it’s rarely actually weight loss in and of itself that inspires you to exercise. It’s what you think the weight loss will bring you – maybe that’s happiness, being more comfortable with your body, or being more confident to go out and date. You can have all of those things regardless of weight loss.
Also, if you frame exercise as something you have to do to earn the food you eat, it soon becomes a thankless, joyless task. When you reframe fitness as something you are choosing to do to take care of yourself and to feel good, it is so much easier to actually want to work out.
1 – LESS LIKELY TO GET SICK
Exercise can boost your immune system, meaning you are less likely to get sick. A meta-analysis of the available studies also suggests that exercise may help reduce the lengths of coughs and colds, although there is not enough good quality evidence to say whether it helps you avoid getting upper respiratory infections in the first place.
2- GET BETTER SLEEP
Sleep is so important to health (not to mention mood) and getting regular exercise is an easy and free way to improve the quality of your sleep. A review of the available evidence has found that exercise improves sleep quality, with no adverse effects. Not only does exercise help you sleep better, sleep helps you exercise better too.
3 – IT IMPROVES YOUR MOOD
I have definitely experienced this myself. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed every single workout, but I always feel better afterward! In fact, according to research exercise is as effective as medication at treating mild to moderate depression although we are not really sure why yet.
Now please don’t stop taking medication without consulting your doctor first. But just keep in mind that if you are having a bad day hitting the gym can help. This is why its particularly important to try and find a form of exercise you enjoy because you are far more likely to benefit from those endorphins if you love what you are doing.
4 – IT INCREASES YOUR BRAINPOWER
Exercise is pretty amazing for your brain! Not only does it change the chemical signaling in your brain in the short term, it also alters brain structure and executive functioning in the long term.
Exercise has been shown to be associated with changes in the areas of the brain associated with aging and cognitive decline, executive function, and long-term memory and can slow age-related brain atrophy and the progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease.
5- IT WILL MAKE YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE
Because exercise enhances executive function and basic cognitive functions related to attention and memory, it also makes you more focused and productive. Again, this is definitely something I’ve experienced myself and is another reason why I prefer working out in the morning where possible.
6- IT’S GREAT STRESS RELIEF
As I’ve already said, regular exercise helps with moderating your mood and can alleviate stress and anxiety. But its not just on an emotional level that exercise can help; Exercise also reduces body’s stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, and stimulates the release of endorphins, which make you feel happier and reduce pain.
7- IT PROTECTS YOU AGAINST DIABETES
A review of the available evidence has shown that regular exercise reduces the risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. These improvements are independent of changes to body composition or diet-induced weight loss, meaning they happen regardless of whether your exercise regime makes any difference to your weight or body composition.
8- IT IMPROVES YOUR HEALTH
Whether you are lifting weights or doing cardio, exercise strengthens your heart. Obviously, a healthy heart is so important, so it is easy to see how exercise improves your health. But I’m not just talking about heart disease. Regular exercise lowers your risk for diabetes, lung disease, high blood pressure, cancer … the list goes on. Exercise is basically a miracle drug for preventing disease.
9 – IT WILL GIVE YOU MORE ENERGY
Studies have shown, that contrary to what you might think, exercise actually makes you feel more energetic, although we don’t yet understand the mechanism behind this. I’ve definitely noticed feeling more tired and sluggish when I’m less active though and a lot of my clients have reported feeling more energised too.
10- YOU WILL LIVE LONGER
And the big one, exercise greatly reduces your chances of dying. Can’t get a better reason than that!
So there we have it, 10 great reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss.
Most of all I’d urge you to try and find the fun in what you’re doing. Try not to think of your training as something you ‘have’ to do because you want to lose weight or you’ve eaten too much pizza or whatever.
If you find a form of movement that you enjoy, and you treat this movement as something you are doing for yourself, then it will be so much easier to find the joy in exercise and keep at it.