There's more to exercise than torching calories.
Scientists have long made the connection between a healthy body and a sharp mind. A 2013 study has resurfaced and might help to explain why.
"The idea is that people with higher fitness have enhanced blood flow to their brain," Jill Barnes, chair of the 2017 World Congress on Exercise and the Brain, recently told the Wall Street Journal. This therefore improves how well your brain works.
The researchers studied how responsive the brains of sedentary and active people were to their environments. The blood vessels of physically fit, older adults were associated with more activity, Barnes said.
Experts have looked into the benefits of regular exercise beyond simple weight loss for years. A healthy brain is something everyone can benefit from--and better cognitive function is just the tip of the iceberg.
Read below for five more reasons to work out that have nothing to do with weight loss:
1. You could make new friends.
Run down the same path every day or routinely go to a yoga studio and eventually you'll start to see familiar faces. Chatting during your warm up or post-class stretches is an easy way to start conversation with like-minded friends. And friends with similar interests is a known way to successfully change your life.
2. You might feel happier.
One word: Endorphins. Research has shown that exercise is a mood booster. When you're active, your brain releases feel-good hormones that perk up your attitude and make you happier after a workout. In other words, it's a pretty healthy remedy for a bad day!
3. Exercise may ease depression.
A study from the University of Michigan found that group exercise in nature--even if you're just walking!--can ease depression symptoms. There's also the added benefit of getting vitamin D from the sun when you're outdoors. A low storage of vitamin D has been linked to seasonal affective disorder (e.i. the winter blues).
4. It's a great way to let go of stress.
Exercise is a proven way to lower your stress levels. Between the mood-boosting endorphins, the pumped-up music and the increased heart rate, you're bound to get those frustrations out. Run your way to a better state of mind and leave your worries on the pavement (or treadmill, or bike, etc.).
5. You'll get stronger every day.
Your strength shouldn't be measured in the number on the scale, but how you feel in the other minutes of your life. Take for example, running. If done properly and consistently, running engages your muscles, improves your joints, and boosts your endurance. Not to mention, research suggests the exercise may reduce your risk of disease and increase your lifespan.
Honestly, that's worth more than the size stitched on a pair of jeans.