Updated: Dec 7, 2020

Exercise, no matter the form, is beneficial to our health in ways that far exceed the obvious, such as staying in shape. Get motivated to exercise with these 20 unique ways regular exercise can benefit your health and wellbeing and ward off a long list of health complications.

If exercise is not part of your life, you are missing out . . . big time!

There are many many reasons people exercise, which go beyond the quest for toned muscles and weight-loss. Make no mistake, exercise can achieve those things too...maybe you have avoided it because those are not your goals or they feel unachievable? 

But surely one of these other benefits of exercise does appeal to you?

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1. Exercise is fun!

Yes, it is usually physically tiring (that's the point!), but if you are not also finding enjoyment in the activities you choose, try something different.

2. A sense of accomplishment

Whether it's completing your workout, reaching a goal, setting a personal best, or winning, accomplishment feels good.

3. The body high

There is no easy way to explain this, but if you exercise you know what I mean. The feeling you get after exercising can last the rest of the day. Your muscles feel worked, you breaths are deeper, your blood is pumping, you have more energy, your mind is more clear.

4. Improved mood

Exercise triggers the release of serotonin, endorphins and other "feel-good" neurotransmitters, which bring on feelings of euphoria and naturally enhance our mood. Regular exercise has also been found to be as effective as anti-depressant medication in many cases.

5. Improved sleep

Regular exercise can help you both fall asleep quicker and to feel more rested. Just make sure you are not exercising too close to bedtime as it can keep you awake.

6. Reduced stress and anxiety

Daily stressors are unavoidable. Stress and anxiety come in all shapes and sizes and are part of our life. How we manage them is huge. Regular exercise has been proven to help in a number of ways. Not only can it take our mind off our worries, it can help provide clarity, optimism, and calmness. Exercise also reduces the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, while stimulating the release of feel-good hormones (as described above). A win-win!

7. Social Outlet

Depending on the type of exercise you choose, it can be a social outlet. If you are someone who doesn't have much time for social activities outside of your work and family, exercise is a great way to make the time. Socializing is an important part of our self-care, and has a number of health benefits (to be covered in another post!).

8. Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (and associated risk factors)

Participating in regular exercise has been proven to help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol. According to Health Canada, cardiovascular disease is the second leading cause of death of Canadians.

9. Improved energy

When you are low on energy the last think you probably want to do is exercise, however, it is one of the best things you can do to boost your energy. Exercising in the morning can therefore set the tone for your entire day.

10. Improved cardiovascular fitness

Exercise that that raises your heart rate results in an improved ability of your heart and lungs to provide oxygen to your muscles, which is used as energy to perform movements. The higher the volume of oxygen you can take in, absorb and transport throughout your body, the better your cardiovascular fitness. To put this in perspective, if you live a sedentary lifestyle and were to attempt to run a half marathon tomorrow, you likely would not make it very far due largely to your low cardiovascular fitness. However if you decided to start training to work towards the goal of running a half-marathon, you would be building up your cardiovascular fitness.

11. Improved strength

Regular exercise helps to build up the strength of our bones, joints, and muscles. This is especially important as we age and start to lose bone and muscle mass and our cartilage starts to deteriorate.

12. Achieve or maintain a healthy body weight

Combined with a healthy diet, regular exercise can help you lose and keep off excess pounds and maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI).

13. Improved immune system

Regular exercise (as long as you are not overdoing it) improves your ability to fight off illness.

14. Reduced risk of some cancers

According to the National Cancer Institute, regular exercise has been proven to reduce the risk of a number of cancers as compared to individuals who do not exercise.

15. Improved memory

Regular exercise helps to maintain and improve our memory, thought processing and information retention by supplying increased oxygen to the brain, improving energy levels, reducing stress and stress hormones, and stimulating new connections in the brain. These are important benefits for everyone, not just our aging population.

16. Creative outlet

Exercise can help to de-clutter your mind to make room for new perspectives and ideas for whatever you might be working on.

17. Improved self-confidence

With reduced stress, an improved mood, more energy, a healthy BMI, and all the other benefits of regular exercise, your self confidence will without a doubt also skyrocket.

18. Improved skin

Just as exercise benefits our brain and heart by increasing blood flow and oxygenation to those areas, it benefits our skin and complexion. Exercise also helps to reduce stress which can negatively impact our skin.

19. It is addictive

Once you catch the exercise bug you will want to keep doing more. This is because exercise causes the release of dopamine, a pleasure hormone that is also released with certain unhealthy addictions, including drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and food. Just be careful not to overdo it on the exercise (actual exercise addition is a thing). The best thing you can do is keep it routine. Taking an extended break from exercising can make it challenging to get back into it again.

20. Longevity

With all of the benefits described above, it is a no brainier that regular exercise will help you live longer.

If none of these amazing benefits motivate you to start exercising, or exercise more regularly, consider WHY and what needs to happen to change this.

Otherwise, figure out WHAT you are going to do and get moving . . .yesterday!


If exercise is new to you, you have any known health issues (or risk factors), you are significantly overweight or answered yes to any questions on the PAR-Q, seek medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise routine.


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