Many of us hit the gym — and hit it hard! — because we want to get in shape, feel fit and look great. But there are hundreds of benefits to working out that go way beyond weight loss.
Kirk Myers, CEO and Founder of The Dogpound in Manhattan offers 10 reasons to get your sweat on that have nothing to do with bikini season coming up and everything to do with having a truly healthy lifestyle.
1. Pumping Iron Keeps Your Heart Pumping- As a personal trainer with a history of heart disease, I know that regular exercise is an incredibly important way to lower risk factors leading to heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Working out, doing cardio and lifting weights not only build the muscles we can see, but helps our hearts become more efficient and work better under stress. A strong heart is able to pump more blood with each heartbeat, allowing it to beat slower and keep blood pressure under control. You may notice that you don’t get winded as easily from high-intensity workouts when you have a regular fitness schedule. This is because a strong heart does a better job pulling oxygen from your blood.
2. Improve Memory and Creativity- There are days when this is reason enough for a workout. Studies have shown that exercise actually improves and promotes memory acquisition and retention, meaning your brain will build and hold onto memories better throughout your life and as you age. Consider working out the morning before a big meeting, college class, or date to help your brain build some new pathways and perform better.
3. Runner’s High Is Real- Aerobic exercises like running, cycling, long distance swimming or any other rhythmic endurance training can create a feeling of euphoria similar to being “high” or feeling invincible. When we participate in a long-duration exercise like running, our bodies release a kind of chemical cocktail made of endorphins, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. To simplify a complicated process, let me just say that these neurotransmitters tend to be released during exercise and are responsible for elevating our moods, leaving us feeling happier, positive, and relaxed.
4. Resist Temptation- All of that chemical stuff I mentioned above has another benefit. Scientists have found that the endorphin rush you get when you work out acts on the same neural pathways as addictive substances. So whether you are addicted to sugar, cigarettes, alcohol or even drugs, exercise can help you resist your substance of choice.
5. Build Bone Density- Nothing is sexier than strong bones, said no one ever. But the reality is, having strong bones means having more mobility, fewer injuries like fractures, and a reduced chance of osteoporosis in old age. Weight bearing exercises like running, dancing, or boxing can build bone density and prevent bone mass loss.
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6. Sleep Like a Baby- Getting your eight hours on a regular basis is nearly impossible when you have a fast-paced New York Lifestyle. So make the most of your sleep by working out on a regular basis. Getting regular exercise is like dosing yourself with an all-natural Ambien with none of the side-affects. Your quality of sleep will improve, even if the time you spend asleep doesn’t increase.
7. Turn Back the Clock- Exercise makes you younger. There are definitely physical benefits from exercise that we can see: fitness is improved, bodies are toned, skin is clear, etc. People who exercise regularly look and feel younger, but a recent study shows that exercise actually affects aging on a cellular level. Telomeres, the cap on the ends of DNA that are associated with the aging process, are longer on endurance athletes and folks who train regularly. The longer the telomere length, the less you age. Even moderate exercise can lengthen telomeres by up to 10 percent, and add years to your life.
8. Become a Sex God/Goddess- Working out your abs and pelvis in the gym has multiple benefits: a flat tummy and better sex. Women who work out their pelvic floor muscles have better sexual function and stronger orgasms. Men who work out have lower chances of impotency and erectile dysfunction and have stronger orgasms. Who doesn’t want stronger orgasms?
9. Make Babies and Increase Fertility- As I mentioned above, exercise means better sex and one of the potential outcomes from sex is procreation. If you are trying to get pregnant or have a baby, or just want to improve your chances in the future, lifting weights is the way to go. Research suggests that men who exercise have a higher concentration of better-than-average semen and women have lower rates of infertility and miscarriage. Get a fertility boost when you hit the gym. Just remember that life is all about balance. Too much strenuous exercise can have the opposite affect and negatively impact fertility, especially for women.
10. It Is Really Fun- In case all of the above reasons weren’t convincing enough, exercising is really fun. Whether you are working out at home, with a group or a trainer, moving your body and accomplishing your goals is incredibly rewarding. Take a boxing class, spin, swim, run, lift weights, dance—do the thing that you like best. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. It makes you feel good, helps you manage day to day stress, and yes, helps you get a banging body.
-by Kirk Myers and Reyna Abraham