A lot of people start exercising with one goal: lose weight. This can be a great benefit you get from working out; it’s not the only reason to get your sweat on, though. I could even make the case that it shouldn’t be at the top of your list of reasons to exercise.
To be frank, if you’re only working out to lose weight, chances are you’re going to have a hard time making it a lasting habit in your life. That’s why it helps to have other motivations for working out beyond dropping pounds and shedding body fat. Listed below are my top 10 reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with losing weight.
1. Improved Mood
Of all the things I’ve done to combat depression and feel happier and more at ease on a regular basis, exercise is probably the one that’s had the greatest impact.
There are countless studies showing that exercise can boost your mood. It triggers the release of endorphins and helps us to feel happier (and happy people don’t shoot their husbands). Some research shows that even doing as little as 15 minutes of exercise per day can result in major changes.
2. Better Sleep
I find that I sleep much more soundly when I’m exercising, too. Exercise helps me tire myself out so that I can get to sleep at night. It also helps me manage my anxiety, which, in turn, keeps me from lying awake at night making up worst-case scenarios in my head and thinking about all the embarrassing things I did when I was in the third grade.
3. Increased Energy
On the flip side, I also notice that I have more energy when I workout on a regular basis, too. Especially as I’ve been taking a break from caffeine, exercising has been instrumental in providing me with an afternoon pick-me-up without me having to brew a cup of coffee or swing through the Starbucks drive-through.
If I can go out and take a quick walk or do some stretching or other movements in my office, it helps to get my blood flowing and gives me the energy I need to power through the rest of my workday.
4. Feel Strong and Empowered
Exercise is empowering. When you see yourself change (not in terms of weight or size, but in terms of what you can do), it encourages you to keep going and continue challenging yourself. It’s a reminder that you can do hard things, that you can overcome obstacles, and that you are able to make positive changes in your life, even when things feel out of your control.
5. Better Health
Regular exercise can improve your health in so many different ways. It improves the function of your cardiovascular system and reduces your risk of heart attacks and strokes. It helps to balance your blood sugar and makes you less prone to insulin resistance and diabetes.
6. More Muscle Mass
Some people think that they don’t want more muscle mass. They don’t want to look “bulky” or “manly.” Let me just tell you, you might not think you want more muscle, but you want more muscle.
The more muscle you have on your body, the faster your metabolism will be (this means you can eat more food without gaining weight!). Strength training and increasing your muscle mass helps you to maintain your balance and avoid injuries as you get older as well.
7. The Snowball Effect
I shared a post on Instagram last week about how establishing habits like exercise and eating a healthy diet can trigger a snowball effect and leak over into other areas of your life.
Once you start practicing discipline to get up and go to the gym every morning, you start developing discipline in other areas of your life. You clean your house more often, you stop drinking so much on the weekends because it interferes with your Saturday morning workouts, etc.
I’ve seen the snowball effect brought on by exercise change so many aspects of life, I don’t even think I can count them all. From meal prepping to waking up earlier on the weekends, it’s changed pretty much everything for the better.
8. Age Gracefully
I don’t want getting older to mean getting frailer. I want to still be able to do the same things at 62 that I can do now at 26, and I know that making exercise a priority now and into the future is the way to accomplish that goal. Regular exercise (especially regular strength training) can help to slow down the signs of aging so you can get older gracefully.
9. Better Work Performance
I don’t know about you, but there’s a big difference between the work done by Natalie who’s exercising regularly and Natalie who isn’t.
The former is efficient, creative, and productive. The latter gets distracted easily, has a hard time coming up with new ideas, and takes way longer to finish projects.
I prefer Natalie who’s exercising regularly, and so do my bosses and clients.
10. Time for Myself
Finally, exercising gives me a chance to take some time for myself. When I’m in the gym or doing a workout at home, I’m not worrying about anyone else or operating according to their agenda. I’m focused on my goals and doing something that makes me a better person.
This might seem selfish at first. Here’s the thing, though. When I take this time for myself, I’m better able to show up for the other people in my life. I can do things for them without feeling exhausted or resentful. They get a better version of me because I took the time to think about myself and fill my own cup first.
What Are Your Top Reasons to Exercise?
There you have it! Ten reasons to exercise that don’t have to do (at least not directly) with weight loss. If you’ve been looking for some additional motivation to get up and get moving, this is it!
What are your reasons for exercising? What do you love most about having a regular workout routine?