Fitness Health

The 12 Main Health Benefits of Exercise (Plus More Than You’ll Ever Want to Know)

woman with white sunvisor running

You’ve heard it before – exercise is good for you. But you still may wonder what the benefits of regular exercise are.

This article breaks down some benefits of the most popular exercise methods and the general benefits of exercise. Keep reading to learn more!

The Health Benefits of Exercise

selective focus photography of woman in pink shirt benefits of exercise
Photo by Nathan Cowley on

Regular exercise and physical activity may:

1. Help Control Weight

Aside from diet, exercise plays a vital role in controlling weight and preventing obesity. Weight comes down to energy balance which can be simplified to calories in versus calories out. Exercise helps you put out more calories than you take in.

2. Reduce Risks of Heart Disease

Regular exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation, providing higher oxygen levels in your body. These higher oxygen levels reduce your risk of heart diseases such as heart attackhigh cholesterol, and coronary artery disease. Additionally, regular exercise lowers blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

3. Manage Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels

Regular exercise can lower blood sugar levels and help your body use insulin better. It is also a great preventative measure for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

4. Quitting Smoking

Exercise cuts down on cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, it helps limit any weight gain you might experience when you quit smoking.

5. Mood and Mental Health

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that make you feel relaxed and improve your mood. These chemicals reduce stress and your risk of depression.

Learn more about how to Help Your Mental Health with Exercise

6. Brain Health

Exercising stimulates the release of proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain. As you age, exercising will keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp.

7. Bone and Muscle Health

For kids, regular exercise will help build strong bones. In addition, it will slow down the loss of bone density with age and help maintain muscle mass for adults.

8. Reduce Cancer Risk

Regular exercise reduces the risk of certain cancers, including colon, uterine, breast, and lung cancer.

9. Increased Balance

This increased balance is vital for older adults who can lose balance and become injured. Muscle strengthening workouts reduce the risks of falling as they improve your balance.

10. Better Sleep

Exercising can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It also reduces daytime sleepiness!

11. Sexual Health

Exercise reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) and may even improve sexual function in those with ED. Women who exercise frequently may notice increased sexual arousal.

12. Increased Life Span

Many studies show that regular exercise reduces your risk of dying early from leading causes of death, such as cancer and heart disease.

12 Main Health Benefits of Exercise Infographic

12 main health benefits of exercise infographic

How To Make Exercise Part of Your Routine

It isn’t always easy to get into being more active, even if you know the benefits of exercise. So here are some simple tips to help you get moving without totally changing your lifestyle overnight.

Increase the Effort of Daily Activities

Simple changes like taking the stairs or parking further from your destination will increase the amount of daily exercise you get in. Changes like this will increase your daily activity levels over time.

Exercise with Friends or Family

Sometimes all it takes to get into a regular exercise routine is having someone with you. Plan social activities that involve exercise like dancing, hiking, or going to the park.

Track Progress

Sometimes to realize the benefits of exercise, you have to see them yourself. Have you heard the phrase “what gets measured improves?” All you need is a taste of results to keep you pushing to the next goal.

Choose Fun Activities

If you love music, listen to music while exercising. Do cardio while watching your favorite show. Try different exercise routines and activities to find ones you enjoy so that you don’t feel stuck doing something you hate.

Find Indoor Activities

If the weather in your area isn’t great for outdoor activities, find something that you can do inside. Of course, many sports are great for this. Still, even simple activities like walking around the mall help you reap the benefits of exercise.

Need Ideas?

If you aren’t sure where to start or if you feel like you need some additional help, try checking out our free workout plans!

Benefits of Exercise During Winter

Exercising during cold weather is often far more challenging compared to summer workouts. Your body loses heat faster, breathing may be painful if you are outside, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) often comes into play.

However, there are some unique benefits of exercise during the winter!

Improved Mood

Working out can combat SAD by causing your body to release more endorphins. For some individuals, these endorphins may be even more effective than antidepressants.

Additionally, if you make it outside, you will get a nice boost of vitamin D.

Boosted Immune System

Exercising regularly helps your immune system function better, causing it to respond to viruses quickly and more effectively. This increased immune function is essential during the winter months!

Cardiovascular Health

Training in cold weather forces your cardiovascular system to work harder than it would otherwise. As a result, cold-weather workouts keep your heart healthy and in good shape.

Increased Calorie Burn

Working out in cold temperatures forces your body to work harder to maintain warmth. This extra work translates directly to increased metabolism and more calories burned!

The benefits of exercise should be good enough on their own, but why not take advantage of the boost you can get from cold weather workouts!

Benefits Of Exercise During Your Period

Working out might be one of the best ways to solve period problems! Contrary to popular belief, working out during your period can minimize some symptoms.

Disclaimer: if you have a problem such as menorrhagia and your doctor has advised that you don’t work out, listen to your doctor.

For most women, working out at least three times per week can have these benefits:

Better Mood

As stated above, working out releases endorphins. Endorphins are a mood elevator! This is especially true if you choose a workout you enjoy!

Pain Relief

Beyond the endorphins, a fantastic painkiller, your body also gets better blood flow when working out. This increased blood flow has been shown to alleviate menstrual cramps.

Increased Energy

Working out helps minimize fatigue and increase energy levels. The energy comes primarily from increased blood flow transporting nutrients better and enhancing your cells’ ability to produce ATP.

Better Period Regulation

Exercising can make your period flow lighter and stabilize an irregular period cycle! The lighter flow and regular period are primarily due to exercise regulating your hormones.

The Benefits of Popular Exercise Styles

Just about any physical activity will provide you with some health benefits. However, the specific benefits you can see with different exercise styles are below.

The Benefits of HIIT

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way to see some of the benefits of exercise firsthand. And quick!

Here are some of the benefits of HIIT:

Fat Loss

HIIT is awesome for burning tons of calories in a short period of time. It also increases your metabolic rate, so you continue to burn calories throughout the day.


Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption is a process that increases your calorie burning for hours post-workout. In fact, this calorie burn effect can last for up to 48 hours! EPOC is induced by increasing exercise intensity, and there is no lack of intensity in HIIT workouts!

HGH Production

One amazing benefit of exercises like those performed in HIIT workouts is increased HGH production. In fact, this type of workout has been shown to increase HGH levels by around 450%! This increase leads to a faster metabolism, helping you to burn fat and build muscle more efficiently.

Here are some great HIIT workouts to try out yourself!

Benefits of Exercise: Weight Lifting

Weight lifting, resistance training, or strength training are the terms used to refer to moving barbells or heavy-weighted machines. Some of the benefits of weight lifting include:

Increased Metabolic Efficiency

Increasing your muscle strength and size will also increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR). The increased BMR means you burn more calories even in a resting state. This is one of the expected benefits of exercise, but it applies even more to activities that increase muscle size.

Improved Musculature

This benefit seems like a given, but of all the activities available, weight lifting is the most capable of increasing your muscle size. So if you want to pack on muscle, this is how to do it.

Increased Physical Performance

Weight training increases muscle size, strength, and endurance. These changes make daily tasks easier to manage and improve your sports performance.

Decreased Chances of Injury

Well-conditioned muscles help absorb the shock of weighted movements. Even simple activities like soccer or jogging are less likely to injure you if you are well-conditioned.

Find workouts like this here!

Benefits of Cardio

When it comes to working out, people tend to either love or hate cardio. However, there are undeniable benefits of this type of exercise!

Increased Respiratory Health

Cardiovascular exercises such as running, jogging, or swimming cause your body to burn through oxygen faster than it does at rest. Because of this, your lungs have to work harder to meet the higher oxygen demand. Over time, your lungs will become more efficient from the increased need.

Weight Loss

When it comes to the benefits of exercise, this is probably one of the most well-known. Regular cardio sessions burn extra calories, helping you maintain a caloric deficit and facilitate weight loss.

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