7 Benefits of Exercise (and Why Weight Loss Isn't One of Them)
In ‘Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It‘, Gary Tabues spends a lot of time debunking the theory that to lose weight we need to exercise more.
He details many studies conducted on unsuspecting laboratory rats, of which I’ll spare you the details. But there was one study that really resonated.
Danish researchers took a group of sedentary, overweight men and women and over 18 months trained them to run a marathon. The findings were very telling. Of the men, there was an average weight loss of something like a few pounds but the women in the study averaged no change to their weight.
Imagine running 26.2 miles (42km) and not losing anything?
This is consistent with my own experience.
A few years ago, I decided to run the Sydney marathon. At the height of my training I was running over 55 miles a week. And while I felt a lot fitter and had more energy, my appetite was enormous. So even though I tried to eat a normal amount of food, I couldn’t help myself. In the end my weight stayed about the same.
But even if exercise isn’t going to solve your weight-loss problems, there are many other benefits to getting off the couch. So don’t cancel that gym membership. Just yet.
1. Increases your energy levels
The more energy you use, the more it feels like you have.
2. Improves the quality of your sleep.
Exercise not only helps you get to sleep more quickly, it also improves the quality of your sleep.
3. Helps combat chronic disease.
Exercise helps improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels which decreases your chances of suffering from things like heart disease, type II diabetes and certain cancers. Exercise has also been linked with a delayed onset of dementia.
4. Improves your mood.
Exercise promotes positive brain chemistry which means you’ll feel better.
5. Provides relief from anxiety and mild depression.
My Dad has suffered from depression most of his life. These days thankfully, he has it under control. And while the medication helps, he says when he is walking every day he feels so much better than if he isn’t.
6. Improves your sex life.
Both men and women experience more enhanced arousal when they are more physically fit.
7. Makes food taste better.
My boyfriend is Irish and he is always saying that ‘hunger is a tasty sauce’. There’s nothing like physical activity to stimulate your appetite. Well, apart from point number 6. ;)
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