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Exercise is more than building muscle and losing fat – here’s what else it does for your body

Any personal trainer, health expert, or doctor will tell you that regular exercise is one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. It’s even more advisable for people who are very busy with work. Fortunately, simple after-work exercises are easy to incorporate into one’s daily routine. You just have to find the right mindset – and motivation. And while many people choose to get their sweat on to burn fat, build muscle, or simply look good, there are a variety of other benefits you gain from exercising regularly.

“Exercise is so much more than building muscle and losing fat,” Erin Schirack, trainer and co-founder of MVFitness tells Blissmark. “The list of health benefits from moving your body is unbelievable.”

Schirack maintains that the benefits vary by the person. “You should have a goal in mind as to what you’d like to gain from exercise. Setting that goal will allow you to track your progress but also reap so many of the additional benefits that come along with it.”

Keep reading to learn more about many of the benefits the National Institutes of Health says you can reap from regular exercise.

girl exercising

Manage your weight

According to the NIH, in addition to diet, exercise is a crucial component of managing your weight. “To maintain your weight, the calories you eat and drink must equal the energy you burn. To lose weight, you must use more calories than you eat and drink,” the NIH explains on its website. Keep in mind that weight is not a direct reflection of health, so listen to your body to ensure you’re exercising for your health and not the scale.

Reduce your risk of heart diseases

There are a lot of cardiovascular benefits to regular exercise. “Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation. The increased blood flow raises the oxygen levels in your body. This helps lower your risk of heart diseases such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and heart attack,” explains the NIH. Regular exercise can also lower your blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

Help your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels

Exercise is also a great tool to keep your blood sugar levels low and your insulin working efficiently. “This can cut down your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes,” explains the NIH. If you already have one of those conditions, regularly breaking a sweat will help to manage it.

Help you quit smoking

If you are trying to quit smoking, exercise can be the kick you need to break the habit. Per the NIH, regular exercise can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can also limit or prevent weight fluctuations that often accompany putting down the pack.

Boost your mental health

Exercise just about synonymous with endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. “This can help you deal with stress and reduce your risk of depression,” the NIH points out. Schirack adds, “exercising and moving can help you to feel better about yourself not only physically but emotionally. Those feel-good endorphins that are released during exercise stay with you and can help you to feel more confident, energetic, and happy.”

Sharpen your mind

Exercising is also good for your brain, sharpening comprehension and judgment skills as you age. The NIH says, “Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain.”

girl stretching
Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock

Strengthen your bones and muscles

Exercise is a bone-building activity, which is especially important for growing kids and teens. “Later in life, it can also slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Doing muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength,” explains the NIH.

Reduce your risk of falls

Exercise can help improve balance and prevent future falls. “For older adults, research shows that doing balance and muscle-strengthening activities in addition to moderate-intensity aerobic activity can help reduce your risk of falling,” the NIH reports.

Improve your sleep

If you are in desperate need of some sleep, try working out. Per the NIH, exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Improve your sexual health

There is a definite relationship between exercise and sexual health. The NIH maintains that regular exercise can lower the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) and improve sexual function for those who already have the condition.

Increase your chances of living longer

If you want to live longer, incorporate exercise into your life. “Studies show that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers,” the NIH points out.

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Leah Groth
Former Digital Trends Contributor
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