If you want to live a healthy, happy, and long life, one of the most important things you need to make time for is exercise. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t make time for exercise, you’ll probably have to make time for illness.”
To me, the biggest benefit is to stay fit and stay happy. However, an active lifestyle has many benefits even beyond this that may be applicable to you. In this post, I will go over five ways in which a healthy and active lifestyle elevates your life (you can also check my Active Lifestyle page for more awesometimes on staying active).
1. It Boosts Your Energy Levels And Mood
One of the most notable benefits of leading an active lifestyle is that you feel more energized and in a better mood.
Many studies have shown this effect on participants. For example, in one paper from 2006, researchers wrote (1):
Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.
The mechanisms in which exercise makes us happier, more optimistic, and more energetic are likely complex. One example here is the release of endorphins in response to exercise (2). These opioid hormones work to suppress pain but also bring about euphoria (3). This effect can also bring positive feelings to exercise and make us more likely to stay consistent.
2. It Improves Your Work Capacity
Another apparent benefit of leading an active lifestyle is that it strengthens the cardiovascular system (4). This helps maintain normal blood pressure, prevents the build-up of plaque in the arteries, and lowers the risk of heart-related problems down the road.
Aside from that, a more robust cardiovascular system improves blood flow, which allows for nutrients and oxygen to travel throughout the body easily (5).
As a result, we become more endurant, our ability to do work increases, and we feel less tired.
3. It Melts Stress
You’ve had a long and demanding day at work. You’re stressed out and irritated. But then, you start exercising. Little by little, your mood picks up, you feel less irritated, and the previous few hours slowly fade into obscurity. By the end of your exercise session, that stressful day feels like a distant memory.
It sounds fantastic, right? The truth is, exercising is an excellent way to melt stress. For one, the release of endorphins helps bring your mood up (2, 3). Maintaining an active lifestyle is also associated with greater resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression (6, 7).
4. It Helps With Weight Loss
At its core, weight loss is about creating an energy deficit. In other words, we need to eat fewer calories than we burn each day, which forces the body to use some of its stored energy to function well.
One way to achieve this effect is to eat less food. But another more sustainable way is to increase your level of activity. In doing so, you start burning more calories each day, which can help you lose weight without having to make significant changes to your nutrition (8, 9).
It’s no secret that research finds a strong correlation between physical inactivity and an increased risk of obesity (10).
5. It Builds Your Confidence And Self-Belief
This is more of a subjective benefit of leading an active lifestyle, but we should not ignore it.
You see, leading a more active lifestyle leads to numerous benefits, some of which we’ve discussed today. When put together, these benefits lead to increased confidence and less anxiety. In part, we can attribute this to the visual benefits of an active lifestyle: weight loss, muscle tone, a better posture, and such.
But, confidence also comes from our deeply-rooted belief system. As you start leading a more active lifestyle and make a conscious effort to improve yourself, your self-beliefs strengthen. You realize that you’re capable of a lot more than you previously thought. This helps you become more confident, happier, and more fulfilled with yourself.
The best part is, this newfound self-belief contributes to many areas of your life, not just with regards to physical activity. It truly is a domino effect of positive changes.