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10 surprising benefits of regular exercise

Your challenge: Be active EVERY DAY for a month, for at least 20 minutes, even if it’s raining!

Exercise offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health, inside and out. Plus, regular physical activity can stimulate the production of hormones that make you feel happier and help you sleep better.

Exercise not only helps you live longer — it helps you live better. In addition to making your heart and muscles stronger, it can help you fend off a host of diseases! Plus, being active may improve your mental and emotional functioning and even bolster your productivity.

What’s in it for me?
Regular exercise can:

  1. Make you feel happier Regular exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress
  2. Improve life expectancy Research dating back to the late 1980s has consistently shown that aerobic fitness may help extend life expectancy. This holds true at any age
  3. Help with weight loss Regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate
  4. Maintain your muscles and bones Exercise helps your muscles to grow and strengthen, plus weight-bearing exercise keeps your bones strong!
  5. Increase your energy levels by raising energy-promoting neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which is why you feel so good after a workout
  6. Reduce your risk of chronic disease Daily physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic disease
  7. Help skin health Moderate exercise can provide antioxidant protection and promote blood flow, which may help protect your skin and delay signs of premature ageing
  8. Improve brain health and memory Physical activity boosts blood flow to the brain, which may help maintain healthy brain function. Aerobic exercise, in particular, may improve cognitive function
  9. Help with relaxation and sleep quality Regular aerobic exercise provides three important sleep benefits: it can help you fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less during the night
  10. It can promote a better sex life Both libido and performance may benefit from moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise.

Make it happen
Before starting this challenge, carefully consider your body, fitness level, goals, injuries, etc, before deciding what sort of activity you can to commit to. Here are some suggestions you might like to consider:

  • Create a routine. Doing exercise at the same time each day is helpful to create the HABIT
  • Exercise with other people. If you work shifts, try committing to exercising with someone who is on the same schedule as you
  • Find exercises you can do at home
  • Use apps to help motivate you, such as MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal and Mindbody, and/or use a fitness tracker watch
  • Look at what you can do in your workplace to keep yourself active
  • Volunteer for the coffee run
  • If you work shifts, as soon as you get your roster, schedule activity sessions at specific times on your off days or downtime, so it makes it more likely to happen
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Sign up to Sweat for Pride to get fit and raise money to support our Rainbow communities
  • Join a running club or track your steps
  • If your job is outside but not that active, try to make your breaks active and go for a walk rather than sitting
  • Choose to take the long way when you need a toilet break
  • Try a standing desk
  • Walk instead of calling or emailing
  • Stretch at your workspace or, better yet, away from it
  • Get moving at lunchtime
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Start a workplace fitness challenge
  • If you work in a sedentary role, schedule breaks to move.

Need inspiration?
Check out these deskercises
Learn three surprising benefits of exercise
Find tips to help you get moving during the winter months
Watch Claire’s at-home workouts


First published: Aug 2020