Top 10 Benefits of Regular Exercise

benefits of regular exercise

As important as it is, diet is not the only aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, in particular, is essential for a healthy body and mind.

The fuel you put into your body can certainly make it easier to exercise. And it can make you feel better, more energised, and more interested in making exercise a part of your regular routine.

But, it still comes down to you to ensure that you actually do move your body—whatever that may look like for you.

Cardio (or aerobic exercise), strength training (anaerobic), flexibility, and balance are all key components of a healthy body. So doing a variety of activities, with varying levels of intensity, is probably the way to go. However, many activities include some combination of those aspects.

But the important thing is to be active. Find things you enjoy doing and make them a regular part of your life, ideally doing some amount of activity every day. Aim to get 30 minutes or more of continuous exercise each day (getting your heart rate up a bit).

Once you commit to daily exercise—and make it a habit, it becomes easier to keep the momentum going.

Although enjoyment should really be one of your primary motivations for exercising (selecting an activity you actually like doing), there are many health benefits to exercising regularly.

Yes, weight loss and (healthy) weight maintenance are certainly benefits. But there are so many other reasons to move your body on a regular basis.

Listed below are ten of the top benefits of regular exercise, especially if you make exercise a daily thing.

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1) Strength

Just a few benefits of regular exercise that you’re liable to notice are: improved mobility, flexibility, stability, and strength. And all of these aspects lead to one result: the more often you move, the easier it is to move.

When it comes to building strength through muscle gain, certain activities are better than others for sure. And while going to the gym regularly and lifting weights will likely result in much quicker muscle and strength gain than carrying your groceries home from the store, both will improve, or at least help to maintain, your strength.

For everyday tasks, having a sufficient level of strength certainly comes in handy. Having trouble opening that pickle jar? Or how about lifting up your grand-kids, little cousins, or that laundry basket?

Strength is used and relied upon just to do daily tasks. And it can sure make things easier, not having to wait around for a pair of muscles to do a task for you. (Not that there’s anything wrong with asking for help—it’s important not to over-estimate your own abilities at any one time. And, of course, always be sure to use proper lifting technique.)

2) Flexibility

While the word may conjure up images of contortionists and extravagant circus performances, flexibility is really rather essential to your everyday life.

Just getting up in the morning and going about your day poses the risk of pulling a muscle, even doing simple tasks. However, the more flexible you are the less risk there is of hurting yourself.

Drop something and need to pick it up? Or is someone willfully denying you the casserole, full of vegan lasagna, positioned on the far side of the table?

In both cases, a wee bit of flexibility can go a long way. (And you may just want to keep that lasagna on your side of the table once you’ve got it.)

Flexibility is something you use in all sorts of ways, so moving your body and stretching your muscles (after you’ve sufficiently warmed up) is a great way to help maintain a limber body.

3) Balance

Balance is another benefit of regular exercise. The more you build and use muscles, especially those small ones that you rarely think about, the more you’ll improve your stability.

Even just walking helps to maintain strength in your legs, ankles, and feet. The more you move, the more your inner ears and body also get the chance to practise maintaining a sense of balance.

The co-ordination of your mind and body is something that needs to be re-enforced through regular movement. Because, as much as we may occasionally take it for granted, balance is an essential aspect of our daily lives.

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4) Mobility

One of the most essential benefits of regular exercise is mobility.

Regardless of your shape, size, or ability, moving your body regularly will help to maximise your range of motion and overall capacity to move around with ease.

Whether you’re a competitive athlete; an outdoor-adventurer; or predominantly a homebody, there are still daily tasks you’d like to complete. And use it or lose it certainly holds true when it comes to mobility.

Regardless of if it’s an intense workout at the gym or an evening stroll around your neighbourhood, it’s important to do something each day to move your body, so that you can continue to live the life you want.

5) Digestion

Your digestion, in particular, is all about movement—peristalsis to be specific, which is really just a fancy word for muscle contractions.

The more hydrated and active you are, as well as the more fibre you have in your diet, the more efficiently your digestive tract is liable to function. 

Not only does exercise move your muscles, it moves your digestive system too. Just like mobility with the rest of your body, the more your digestive system moves, the easier time you’ll likely have when you visit the washroom—which is certainly important.

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6) Immunity

Likewise, hydration, activity, and fibre—as well as vitamin C (most prevalent in raw fruits and vegetables) are all important components of a healthy immune system.

As for exercise, moving your body is what stimulates your lymph system which, in turn, helps your body to rid itself of toxins, waste, and the like. 

Jumping on a rebounder or folding trampoline is one way to help stimulate your lymph system. It’s also a good way to strengthen your leg and core muscles as well as improve your balance and co-ordination—without even having to leave home.

Just be sure to build up slowly, as your muscles will need to adjust a bit to what’s required of them (as is the case with any new activity you do).

7) Lungs & Heart

Next, we’re on to the lungs and heart. There are multiple aspects of exercise that help to improve your internal respiratory and circulatory systems—namely weight loss (or healthy weight maintenance) and improved oxygen uptake.

The more you move your body, the more efficiently, and effectively, your lungs and heart can pump oxygen to your cells.

Transported via your blood, oxygen is fundamental to so many of your bodily systems. And if you can get some good ol’ fresh air when you exercise, that’ll surely help too.

Related: Plant-Based Interview with Dr. Steven Lome (of Heart Strong)

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8) Sleep

Improved oxygen uptake in your body, through exercise, means more oxygen to your brain. And that’s essential for good sleep.

Additionally, a healthy balance of endorphins (which are increased) and adrenaline (which is decreased, when you exercise) help you to get a better quality of sleep. In particular, having exercise as part of your regular routine can significantly improve your sleep, although the effects may not always be immediate.

Adequate sleep is also critical to support your immune system, and it gives your body time to repair itself—including your muscles, after a long day.

9) Mental Health

Often over-looked, yet one of the most important benefits of regular exercise, is the effect it has on mental well-being*.

As you saw above, exercise helps to regulate your hormones (such as endorphins and adrenaline). Along with many things, this helps to improve your mood. (And a good, restful night’s sleep never hurts either.)

Aside from diet, few things will improve your health and mental well-being as much as exercise and spending time outdoors. Particularly, time spent outdoors can do wonders for your state of mind. 

Time away from computers and electronic devices is always a good idea. And connecting with your natural surroundings can have a calming, and even therapeutic effect, along with a bit of fresh air too.

So take the time to move your body, providing more oxygen and endorphins to your brain. Because the benefits of a healthy mind can extend into all areas of your life, and that’s not something to neglect.

*Note: Skip the “balanced diet” comment in this linked article, instead opt for a healthy, whole plant food diet.)

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10) Weight Loss (or Maintenance)

Finally, of course there’s also weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight (and body).

Being trim doesn’t mean someone is healthy. But if someone wants to be healthy, they’ll need to be trim—for their body shape, that is.

Finding a healthy weight for your body is more about avoiding (or ridding your body of) carrying excess fat while maintaining a healthy amount of muscle (at least enough to comfortably go about doing your everyday tasks).

Not every fit, trim, healthy person will look exactly the same. Some people may naturally have larger thigh muscles while others may have longer, more slender arms.

One’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is often a far better measure of health than a number on the scale or the shape of one’s body.

But, as you can see, attaining, and maintaining, a healthy BMI (and weight) is just one of the many benefits of regular exercise.

Conclusion

So, although diet is an essential component of health, the importance of exercise is not something you want to underestimate—or, goodness forbid, neglect all together.

Regardless of your main motivations, there are many benefits of regular exercise that extend to all areas of health. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; walking could be your primary form of exercise. Just make sure to do a fair bit of it—ideally every day. 

The best way to ensure you keep active is to do things you enjoy. Whether that’s outdoors; in the gym; on your own; with a group; or some combination, just find something which appeals to you. And stick with it.

Because consistency is the key.

Rather than just a one-off epic workout here and there, health and fitness are built through what you do day-in and day-out.

So, in order to enjoy the many benefits of regular exercise, make exercise a part of your lifestyle—and prioritise it. Your body, and mind, will be healthier for it.

Related: Simplicity: The Key to Healthy, Plant-Based Eating—For Lifelong Health

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