Reasons To Start Today: 9 Ways Working Out Benefits Your Health

by Sarah Midkiff

By now, most people know working out has benefits other than reducing or managing weight. But did you know just how many benefits there were? It's a long list.

If you have been putting off hitting the gym after work or class, you may want to reconsider.

1. It improves your mood.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hitting the gym or taking a brisk walk can do wonders for your mood and overall sense of well-being.

How? Exercising stimulates a variety of chemicals in your brain, which can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.

2. It boosts your energy level.

This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but regular exercise can give you a much-needed energy boost.

When you engage in regular physical activity, your muscle strength increases and your cardiovascular system works more efficiently, as well as your respiratory system. When your body works more efficiently, you have more energy throughout your day.

3. It makes for a better night sleep.

Can't seem to fall asleep at night? Exercising can help you fall asleep faster, and induce deeper sleep.

So, if you want to catch some zZz's, you might want to swing by the gym or revisit your favorite running route. Just make sure you're not exercising right before bedtime, or you may become too energized to fall asleep right away.

4. It can boost your self-confidence.

Believe it or not, regular exercise can noticeably boost your self-confidence. According to studies done by Pennsylvania State University and the Journal of Adolescent Health, exercise can quickly elevate a person's perception of his or her attractiveness, regardless of weight, size, gender or age.

Need an extra boost? Take your workout outdoors. Studies have shown exercising outside can increase vitamin D levels.

Just don't forget sunscreen!

5. It can help alleviate anxiety.

Chemicals released in the brain during exercise can greatly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

These benefits can be achieved by as little as 20 minutes of medium to high intensity aerobic exercise.

6. It can help improve your memory.

Have a big exam or an important meeting coming up? Regular exercise can help improve your brain's ability to remember and learn new information.

Not only will that pilates class or brisk walk improve your memory, it can also make you more productive. It's a win-win.

7. It can get your creative juices flowing.

Independent of mood, a good gym session can help boost creative thought for up to two hours after working out.

So, if you find yourself stuck on a project or facing a mean case of writer's block, grab your running shoes and get that heart pumping.

8. It can help prevent mental decline.

Now, this is an investment worth making.

Studies show that working out, especially between the ages of 25 and 45, can support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain in charge of memory and learning. It does this by boosting its chemical production.

That puts whole new meaning behind the classic advice, "Use it or lose it."

9. It can benefit the health of others.

Whether it's taking a lunchtime walk with a coworker, a pilates class with a friend after work or a group class at the gym, studies have proven most people perform better in aerobic exercise tests when paired with a workout buddy.

So instead of you and your friend grabbing drinks, grab your water bottles and get moving. Your bodies will thank you.

Plus, it's a great excuse to meet up with a friend, which will make you more likely to stick to it.