Each new year brings a crop of exercise enthusiasts chasing bigger muscles, slimmer waistlines, and increased endurance. Its typically a few weeks before they burn-out.
The secret to finding a fitness routine that sticks is recognizing that great arms and abs aren’t the only perks of regular workouts. Strength training and cardio can substantially improve cognitive function, happiness, and overall wellness. Here are five unexpected perks from working out regularly:
Brain power. Looking to justify the time you spend at the gym? The Harvard Health Letter reports that “regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.” And you don’t need years of workouts to see results. According to Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, researchers have observed an “increase in the volume of selected brain regions” in as little as six months of regular exercise. Similarly, a University of Illinois study found that patients improved 10 to 15 percent on a variety of memory and attention tasks after exercise.
Improved blood pressure. Trainers and fitness enthusiasts love TRX Suspension Training because it’s a fast, fun and effective way to build strength, increase endurance and burn fat. Additionally, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently found that TRX can reduce resting blood pressure. Lance C. Dalleck, PhD, who led ACE’s TRX health study, noted that participants who had both normal and prehypertensive blood pressure saw benefits—in some cases a 10 to 12 point drop—which were more dramatic than results associated with traditional aerobic exercise.
Fighting depression. While exercise shouldn’t take the place of professional mental health treatment, medical researchers have long recognized that exercise can help improve a person’s mood. In a recent study, researchers found that people who exercise regularly are less likely to develop depression, and regular, moderate-to-strenuous exercise “demonstrably improves” mental health. To reduce that conclusion to Legally Blonde terms, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
Changing your body. Beyond the outward physical changes that you’ll notice with regular exercise, adding weight training to your fitness routine can change your metabolism. The Guardian explains, “Muscle is a more metabolically active tissue than fat, which means it will burn through more energy just at rest. According to the American Centers for Disease Control, weight training regularly can boost your metabolic rate by as much as 15 percent.”
Myriad results. Different types of exercise stimulate different reactions. Distance running and HIIT intervals stimulate brain cell production more than weight training, but weight training has been shown to improve bone density. Meanwhile, yoga leads to increased flexibility, which generally improves athletic performance and reduces the likelihood of injury. To reap the most benefits, it’s important to incorporate cardio, strength, and flexibility training into a routine.
Committing to fitness is about more than just looking good for your high school reunion or beach vacation: it can make you smarter, happier, more alert, and help you live longer. If you skip the gym and opt for a run or a regular TRX Suspension Training workouts at home, you can unlock the mental benefits of exercise in as little as two hours per week.
And if you happen to develop great arms, slimmer waistline and a six-pack along the way along the way? Well, those are great, too.