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10 benefits of exercise that aren't weight loss

Netdoctor (UK) logo Netdoctor (UK) 08/01/2019 Laura Williams

a person standing in front of a building: A good exercise regime contributes to weight loss, but there are lots of other health benefits of staying active. Including improved mood and improved sleep. © Getty Images A good exercise regime contributes to weight loss, but there are lots of other health benefits of staying active. Including improved mood and improved sleep. The benefits of exercise are tenfold and go way beyond simple weight loss.

From mood boosting to bone health, here are 10 great reasons to lace up your trainers - that don't include dropping a dress size! 

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1. Bone health

When it comes to your bones, exercise works on multiple levels. Weight-bearing exercise includes the day-to-day stuff such as walking and stair-climbing as well as sports like tennis, running and even dancing. Resistance training also helps to stimulate bone growth as well as prevent bone loss. 

✔️ Try this: Mix it up. Vary your weight bearing activity so you're getting a rounded routine of walking, resistance training (this can be exercises using body weight moves – doesn't have to involve the gym and/or weights) and agility and balance exercise too – the latter can help to prevent falls.

a group of people sitting posing for the camera: Benefits of exercise © Getty Images Benefits of exercise

2. Immunity boost

The list of illnesses that exercise can help to prevent or alleviate is extensive. Exercise helps in a number of ways. It improves heart health, increases your body's response to insulin, it lessens the frequency and severity of asthma attacks, and strengthens muscles to help prevent joint pain.

✔️ Try this: Vary your routine. If you're looking to improve cardiovascular health, you'll need to change your routine regularly and ensure your workouts are tough enough to ensure you're continually increasing fitness. If you're following a strength routine to help with back pain, introducing new exercises and covering all the relevant muscle groups is important.

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3. Improved mood

You've mainly got the release of those feel-good chemicals, endorphins, to thank for the boost in mood that comes from a good workout. Scientists also believe that the release of the neurotransmitter epinephrine further acts to lift mood.

✔️ Try this: Join a class or enlist the help of an exercise buddy to maximise the feel-good factor of your workout. Not only will you enjoy all the benefits of a bit of company, you have the added bonus of being accountable to your buddy or class teacher.

a man standing next to a body of water: Man running on the beach © Jordan Siemens - Getty Images Man running on the beach

4. Increased energy levels

The improved blood flow and subsequent boost in oxygen and nutrient delivery is mainly how exercise lifts you from a sloth-like state. A study undertaken by the University of Georgia discovered healthy-but-sedentary participants who engaged in 20 minutes of low-to-moderate intensity exercise just three times a week for six weeks found they felt less tired and more energetic.

✔️ Try this: Focus on the less tough stuff. While varying your routine to include both high and lower intensity workouts is an essential game plan for ticking most goal boxes, when it comes to energy the consensus is that low-to-moderate is best. You'll get a good initial buzz from a high octane session but a lower intensity session will boost energy with a smaller risk of leaving you feeling depleted later on.

5. Better sleep

Exercise affects sleep in many ways - it helps to tire both body and mind as well as dampening down your stress response to stimulus.

✔️ Try this: Time your exercise right. This is really down to your own personal experience. Try experimenting – if you find that home H.I.I.T session leaves you wired at 11pm, try switching it to the morning. But if you're out for the count even after you've had your fill of evening burpees, if it ain't broke…

10 benefits of exercise that aren't weight loss © Getty Images 10 benefits of exercise that aren't weight loss

6. A better sex life

The endorphins produced from a decent workout promote the release of sex hormones. Add to that the reduction in stress, improvement in energy and boosted blood flow from a good workout and you've got the winning combination for a better time in the bedroom.

✔️ Try this: Don't neglect your pelvic floor! Pelvic floor exercise should form a crucial part of your fitness routine. Not only do strong pelvic floor muscles help to support everything from your weight training routine to a weak bladder, they also help to increase sensitivity and enhance orgasm during sex.

7. Improved memory

Researchers at the University of British Columbia found regular aerobic exercise increased the size of the hippocampus, the area of your brain responsible for verbal memory and learning.

✔️ Try this: Keep it regular and do-able - there's no need to go all-out to reap the benefits. Those who took part in the study walked briskly for an hour just a couple of times a week, which comes close to current government recommendations.

Woman's legs running on treadmill in gym © Peter Cade - Getty Images Woman's legs running on treadmill in gym

8. Greater productivity

Better concentration, faster learning and greater creativity sounds like a workplace wishlist but it's yours for the taking. Leeds Metropolitan University study examined a number of office workers' experience comparing their performance on exercising and non-exercising days. On gym days, workers found their time management was better, they were more productive as well as being more resilient and tolerant to co-workers.

✔️ Try this: Take every exercise opportunity. If you can't get away from your desk long enough for a full workout, take mini exercise breaks. The cumulative effects of taking the stairs several times a day, heading out to a sandwich bar that involves a longer walk and walking or part-walking your commute will offer the same, or similar, benefits to that of a structured workout.

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9. Smoother skin

Where to start when it comes to exercise and skin? The enhanced delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your skin that comes from the boosted blood flow is a good start. And this combination also helps to boost collagen production, the protein that gives your skin its strength and elasticity.

✔️ Try this: Safeguard your skin when exercising outside. Of course we all want the sun-kissed glow that comes from those early morning runs but to ensure your skin's in tip-top condition both now and in later life, SPF is a must when exercising outdoors.

10. Stronger muscles

Let's not forget this one. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, so it enables you to burn calories more efficiently. Conditioned muscles also look good. Whether your muscle goal is a well-defined six pack or a little tone on the tops of your arms, you don't need to put in hours in the free weights area to see results.

✔️ Try this: Lift light, lift heavy and lift different. Vary your exercise routine so that you're working your muscles in a variety of ways. Combine heavier weight, low repetition sets with higher repetition sets and regularly add a different stimulus such as a Swiss ball or suspension trainer to keep muscles on their toes.


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