Ah, exercise. You've probably spent a summer going on sweaty runs, checking out the newest spin studios and maybe even giving boxing a try.
And it was awesome, right?
But as we say goodbye to bonfires and beaches and look forward to sweaters and snuggling, we're going to guess there's a tiny part of you jumping for joy over the end of bikini season.
And we get it -- even for the very healthy among us, too much salad can get old. But before you break out the paninis, and especially before you freeze your gym membership until next May, hear us out.
Although regular exercise can help with weight loss, it's not the key to weight loss as we're often led to believe.
Truthfully, there's just no way your morning run will make up for the pint of Ben & Jerry's you ate in one sitting.
According to The Guardian, the authors of a study on the link between diet and exercise explained,
In the past 30 years, as obesity has rocketed, there has been little change in physical activity levels in the western population... This places the blame for our expanding waistlines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed.
Before you get really sad and decide to give up on exercise completely, we actually have some great news: Even though exercise and weight loss may not be all that correlated, there are countless other benefits to getting your cardio on.
Here's what you should know.
1. Exercise eases anxiety and busts stress.
Anxiety disorders affect a whopping 40 million adults in the US. And one of the best ways to combat it, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, is regular exercise.
Whether it's a brisk 10-minute walk or an hour-long jog, exercise can do wonders for anxiety.
A study conducted out of Princeton University reportedly found mice who had been given the option of running on a little wheel for six weeks were more likely to explore open areas than the mice who remained sedentary, suggesting they were less anxious than their inactive rodent friends.
Humans are not mice, of course, but you get the picture.
2. Exercise protects your heart.
OK, so maybe exercise can't protect you from the pain of heartbreak. But when it comes to the actual organ in your chest, exercise is pretty damn good for it.
Just like when it comes to easing anxiety, you don't have to be a marathon runner for exercise to benefit your heart.
UCSF Medical Center recommends a 30-minute brisk walk five days a week for major health benefits.
Think about it. Is taking 30 minutes out of your day to do some good for your ticker that much of a sacrifice? We didn't think so.
3. Exercise makes you more confident.
If you're still working up the courage to talk to that guy or girl who lives in your building/works with you/hands you your morning cup of coffee, try exercising.
In addition to the self-esteem boost a pair of toned arms brings, a study on the relationship between work-life balance and exercise found people who exercise regularly are more confident they can handle the many stresses of life.
The lead author of the study, Russell Clayton, said,
Individuals who exercised regularly were more confident that they could handle the interaction of their work and home life and were less likely to be stressed at work.
4. Exercise makes you better in bed.
Yep, you read that right. If you exercise regularly, you probably have a lot to offer in the bedroom.
First of all, sweating releases sex pheromones, the chemicals that help attract the opposite sex.
And once things have escalated with that hottie you picked up at the gym, exercise improves your blood flow, helps prevent erectile dysfunction and leads to lower estrogen levels (high estrogen levels are known for killing sex drive).
5. Exercise kind of gets you high.
We mean high on life, of course. The runner's high is a real thing! When a group of researchers in Germany set out to discover the relationship between running and endorphins (the "happy" chemical), they found running sends tons of endorphins to the brain, which creates a kind of high.
Plus, researchers at Penn State found physically active people are generally more excited and enthusiastic than people who don't exercise.
In a statement, study researcher Amanda Hyde said,
...we also found that people have more pleasant-activated feelings on days when they are more physically active than usual.
So if you're in a funk, try taking a walk around the block. It could do wonders for your mood.
6. Exercise helps with creativity.
Got writer's block?
It might seem counterintuitive to take 45 minutes to do something else if you have a paper due the next morning, but a sweat sesh could be just what you need to get the creative juices flowing.
A study on the relationship between aerobic exercise and creativity found creativity is maximized for up two hours following exercise.
Even if it's just a short stroll, you might want to give this one a try before attempting to write that opening paragraph for the fifth time.
7. Exercise helps you get more done.
Along with helping you manage stress and anxiety and boosting confidence -- all important when it comes to productivity -- exercise literally gives you more brain cells through a process called neurogenesis.
What does this mean? People's brains are shown to grow more quickly if they exercise regularly.
Plus, exercise has been shown to give you a memory boost, which is always helpful when you're trying to get stuff done.
Ready to start training for a marathon yet? We thought so.