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    10 Benefits of Working Out

    Let’s talk benefits.  Not the kind you get at work, but the kind you get from taking a fraction of your day (less than an hour, and often less than 30 minutes) and spending it in a state of physical activity.  It’s worth knowing the types of rewards you’ll reap for the labors you perform; after all no one goes to work without knowing what the payment is going to be.  Right?  So, let’s take a look at 10 benefits of regular exercise.

    Mood Enhancement - Let’s face it - life can sometimes be pretty hard on us.  Without an outlet, that stress can be released in ways that are destructive rather than productive.  We blow up at friends, family, and perfect strangers, and then brood over why it is that no one likes us.  A great way to relieve that tension is to take it out on such inanimate objects as dumbbells, barbells, and elliptical training machines.  And that exertion has more to do with your brain than it does with grunting out that last difficult rep.  When we exercise, our brains release a cascade of hormones, particularly endorphins, that help regulate mood.  Frequent workouts (once a day will do nicely) will help keep your mood on even keel rather than having it fluctuate wildly from day to day.

    Reduce the likelihood of chronic diseases - There are so many diet- and nutrition-related illnesses and diseases that I can hardly list them all here.  Some of the key diseases whose risks may be reduced with less than 4 hours of physical activity per week are cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis.  A few hours a week may help prevent years of suffering, medication, and doctors appointments.

    Better sleep - If you find yourself suffering from insomnia, then maybe it’s time for a brisk morning run.  Daily exercise helps support better and deeper sleep (assuming, that is, that you don’t exercise right before bedtime), which can enhance your mood and sharpen your senses.  Besides, what’s not to love about sleeping better?

    Weight control - File this reason under “duh”.  People know that exercise helps regulate weight.  As I’ve already pointed out, it doesn’t take a lot of time to get the benefit from exercise.  The best part is knowing that the degree of exertion you put into exercise will return in more calories burned and better overall cardiovascular and respiratory health.

    Boost those energy levels - I have to admit – there are basically only 2 things that will help me become alert at 6:00 in the morning.  One is a double-shot latte made with skim milk.  The second is a good morning run.  Only one of those things, however, gives me a lasting energy shot, and you can probably guess which one it is.  A good run helps oxygenate the body, and the abundance of oxygen in the system puts all body systems on high alert.  What that means is no mid-morning crash once the caffeine wears off – and no fear of the boss finding you napping on your keyboard!

    Sex, baby! - That’s right - I went there!  Exercise helps both genders in the area of sexuality.  Fit women have the benefit of heightened arousal and sensitivity while fit men experience a natural form of “male enhancement” that doesn’t come in a capsule.  Never mind the fact that men and women who are in good physical shape are usually more attractive to the opposite sex.  Factor it all together, and working out could just be your path to higher sexual bliss.  Oh yeah!

    Relationship building - Finding yourself at odds with your spouse?  One of the ways Alice and I found to develop our relationship was to head to the gym to work out together.  Exercise helped us deepen our trust as we spotted each other on the hardest reps.  The cooperative nature of spotting benefits both the one holding the weights and the one doing the spotting.  Alice has told me of the many times she felt pride in me (and love for me) for doing the things that were necessary to change my body and my life for the better.  We were cheerleaders for each other in addition to being accountability partners, and it was an activity we could do together – no kids, no TV, and no distractions.

    Positive self-image - I remember looking in the mirror before I lost about 30 lbs of fat and thinking, “Wow.  You’re ugly!”  I just couldn’t say anything positive about the way I looked because, well, I looked bad.  It wasn’t until about 5 months after I started training that I looked in a full length mirror and said to myself, “Wow!  You’re looking good!”  It was then that I suddenly realized just how down on myself I had always been.  Exercise and training has brought me to a point where I can respect and appreciate the body I live in.

    Reduce back pain - My chiropractor told me some years ago that for every 10 pounds of fat we carry on our abdomens, we’re experiencing about 100 pounds of pressure on our lower backs.  The way I figure it, I was feeling the weight of a 250 pound man pressing on my lower back.  Reducing that fat load up front can reduce the stress on the back.

    Have fun! - Yes, exercise can be fun.  Did you know that you can burn nearly 500 calories per hour by just dancing?  What form of exercise could be more fun than that?  Personally, I also enjoy activities like karate, bowling, table tennis, swimming, and playing football.  These are FUN activities that disguise the fact that exercise is taking place.  If you’re finding your exercise program lacking in excitement or fun, try something new.  Go for a hike, take a rock climbing class, learn to cha-cha, or sign up for karate.  It’s not necessarily the activity, but rather the fact that you are doing something that matters.

    Be well!