When’s the last time you went for a walk, played a round of golf or went to the gym? A body in motion stays in motion and offers a plethora of benefits to boot. Here are 12 benefits of regular exercise your should know.

1. Exercise helps your mood.

Are you in a bad mood and don’t know why? Something as simple as a brisk walk around the neighborhood can help put you in a better mood and improve your state of mind. As little as 30 minutes of exercise can release chemicals in your brain that can instantly melt away those bad thoughts. And you can increase the benefits when you make exercise a part of your regular routine. Whether it’s lifting weights at the gym, taking Fido for a walk or doing yoga in the basement, a little physical activity will make you a little happier every day.

2. Exercise helps you sleep.

Have you seen a toddler taking a nap after a long day playing in the park? They fall asleep fast and sleep hard. And you can, too! When you put your body in motion and exercise, you’ll sleep better and fall asleep faster.

3. Exercise helps your sex life.

Regular exercise will help you look your best and have more energy. Those two benefits alone can bring a new-found spark to the bedroom. But according to the Mayo Clinic, “regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.” So hit the gym and get a nice boost in the bedroom.

4. Exercise helps you diet.

Food is fuel. When you exercise, your body needs certain nutrients, vitamins, and calories to perform at your peak condition. You’ll find you crave more nutritious foods and won’t want fatty, greasy foods that lack nutritional value. And if you reject your body’s advice and eat a Big Mac before working out? Well, your body has a way of making you understand that wasn’t a great decision. When you treat your body like a finely tuned machine, you’ll find you’ll want the best fuel, and your diet will follow.

5. Exercise reverses stress symptoms.

Stress is a daily part life, it seems. With technology making real-time results more prevalent, the physical toll of stress effects nearly everyone. Physical activity helps nearly every symptom of stress and almost magically removes those symptoms. Tightness in the neck and back giving you back pain? Exercise can help loosen muscles and remove the pain. From migraines to depression, stress can be a terror on your body. Regular exercise will help reverse the symptoms and improve your mood.

6. Exercise makes you smarter. And younger.

Researches say aerobic activity keeps cognitive function sharp and reduces the declining memory and processing speed associated with aging. So whether you take a spin class, train for a 5K, or play tennis, you can improve your brain power and fend off the affects of aging, all while having fun!

7. Exercise makes you feel sexy.

My favorite benefit of regular exercise? The way it makes you feel. You’ll feel more confident and well, sexy. Working out regularly will change your body, making all that hard work pay off in a very concrete way. And those small, subtle body “improvements” will help you have more confidence with the opposite sex, whether single and looking or married and looking for a little extra spice.

8. Exercise helps control addictions.

Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. From food to nicotine to drugs and everything in between, addiction plays a part a part in many lives. Exercise, especially distance running, releases many of the same chemicals that release with addiction. Running quite literally gets you high, and that helps kick those addictions by offering a similar payoff without the side affects.

9. Exercise reduces aches and pains.

Movement is good for your joints and reduces stiffness in your muscles. It helps strengthen your bones and increases your range of motion. All these things means those aches and pains of years of non-movement can melt away with a regular exercise plan.

10. Exercise can be social.

Whether you play a game like basketball or tennis or join a group like CrossFit, or even join a Yoga class, exercising can be incredibly social and entertaining. These can be great ways to meet new, fun people and offers a great conversation piece as you meet people who have a passion for the same activities as you.

11. Exercise keeps you motivated.

Creating good habits and seeing results can help keep you motivated throughout other areas of your life. And when you feel great and have the self confidence, you’ll feel more motivated to do more than ever.

12. Exercise is fun.

Best of all, exercise is fun. You’ll find it becomes easier and easier, allowing you to push your limits and accomplish things you would never have imagined.

No matter what you activity level or current physical condition, a regular exercise program can help you get fit and improve many aspects of your life. So take a walk, join a gym, play your favorite sport, or just do some stretching in your living room. You’ll be able to take advantage of these benefits and more!

Featured photo credit: Jean Henrique Wichinoski via flickr.com

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