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  • Nicola Dale

Reasons to Exercise that aren’t Weight Loss

Updated: Aug 16

Lots of people workout for aesthetic reasons, like losing or gaining weight, building muscle or ‘toning up’ (which means losing weight and building muscle). Let me be clear, I’m not saying these aren’t valid reasons for exercising. Aesthetic goals can be super motivating and seeing physical changes can give you a great sense of achievement.


But, aesthetics and weight management are just 2 of many reasons why you should exercise. Here are 5 reasons to exercise that aren't weight loss:


1. For your mental health. When you exercise it stimulates the production of endorphins which are chemicals released by your brain which elevate your mood. These are responsible for the exercise high you feel after a strong session. In addition, exercise reduces the levels of your body's stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which will help you relax. This is why exercise is a great method of stress relief and can help manage anxiety. Finally, as your strength and stamina improve you’ll start to feel a sense of pride in your progress which can lead to an increase in self-esteem and confidence.


2. Because it’s fun. There’s no right or wrong way to exercise, so don’t stick to something you’re not enjoying. If you love playing tennis do that, if you love gym classes go to those, if having a dance party is your thing keep doing that. It’s all about moving in a way you enjoy and that excites you. If you hate it, you won’t stick to it and consistency is key to truly experience the benefits of exercise (consistency doesn’t mean working out every day, it could be 3 days, 5 days or however many you feel like that week). Exercising can also be a great way to make friends and socialise. Join sports clubs, teams and classes and be open to talking to new people. Having friends that enjoy the same exercise as you just adds to the fun.


3. Move and feel better - Mobility. In my last post, I discussed the 6 Foundational Movement Patterns we use in everyday life. Working on these movements will impact how you move on a daily basis, i.e. working on hip hinging movements to alleviate back pain when leaning over to pick things up, or working on the carry to increase your strength and make carrying your shopping easier. The gym isn’t the only place you can work on these movements, you could also try yoga, dance, pilates or sports classes. However, you choose to work on them you’ll soon be moving and feeling better than ever before.


4. Improves your sleep. Research has suggested that exercising can both make it easier to fall asleep and improve your overall quality of sleep. The relationship between sleep and exercise is still not fully understood yet but it is believed that exercises can help stabilise your mood and stress levels which is important for sleep. In addition, better sleep means more energy to do the things you love.


5. Reduced risk of chronic conditions. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even some types of cancer. Research suggests that being physically inactive can play a big factor in your chance of suffering from these conditions, but by starting to move more now, regularly will decrease it. This means that regular physical activity can both increase your quality and length of life.


These are just 5 of a whole host of reasons to exercise that aren't weight loss. Hopefully, they are enough to persuade you to prioritise moving. Remember, this doesn’t have to be exercising in the way that’s currently trendy, just whatever way you enjoy. If you need some motivation to give yourself that final push, check out my 5 tips for motivation blog. If not why not try writing down 1 or 2 non-aesthetic goals to work towards.


Currently, mine are:

  1. Increase my strength - I want to be able to lift heavy and do a handstand.

  2. Spend more time moving in a way that relaxes me (walking, yoga).


Let me know why you exercise and your goals in the comments!


References


‘Exercise To Relax’ - https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax


‘Exercising For Better Sleep’ https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep


‘Lack of Exercise is a Major Cause of Chronic Diseases’ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/