We all know that regular exercise is a great way to lose weight, tone up and get glowing, healthy skin. We can also feel the improvement in cardiovascular fitness that it brings when we notice it getting easier to chase the kids around the park or haul shopping bags in from the car.
And there is no denying the euphoria of completing a run or exercise class, boosting your mood and confidence in one go.
While these obvious and short-term or, in some cases, immediate benefits may be your initial reasons for beginning a new exercise program or joining a gym, they may not always be enough to keep you pulling on your trainers when the going gets tough.
Some people get disheartened when the results they wanted take longer than they expected; others get bored or lose motivation to keep going once they have achieved their target weight, only to find that the pounds to pile back on soon after the gym membership has lapsed.
The good news is that there are numerous long-term benefits of regular exercise that are not so immediately obvious, and that understanding these added benefits can give you the extra motivation to get active and stay that way for life.
According to an article by Bupa’s health information team, the long-term benefits of exercise include:
- Lowering blood pressure, improving the balance between good and bad cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Reducing the risk of lower-back pain, alleviating pain from osteoarthritis and possibly preventing or slowing progression of osteoarthritis, increasing bone-mineral density in younger people and slowing bone degeneration later in life.
- Reducing the risk of developing certain cancers, including colon, breast, lung and endometrial cancers.
- Managing and reducing the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes.
- Improving brain function, including in children and older adults.
- Improving mental health and wellbeing through benefits in terms of anxiety, sleep, self-image, depression, phobias, panic attacks and stress.
So if what you see in the mirror isn’t giving you the motivation you need to keep pulling your trainers on, think about what’s going on inside, and keep active for life.