I know that slow weight loss can be disheartening. But, if there is one change you make in 2020, please have it be to start exercising every day.
Weight loss and exercise
We humans were never meant to live the sedentary lifestyle we do. Our prehistoric ancestors had to hunt and forage to survive. We order take-out from the comfort of our couches and have it delivered. And our bodies don’t like it. That’s part of the reason why 1 in 3 Americans is obese.
Here’s the truth about weight loss: Diets alone can help you lose weight. But a combination of diet and exercise will help you become healthier in many ways and live a happier, longer life.
The best part is that even if you’re older or overweight, exercise still has clear health benefits. Study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that people who were most fit in midlife were at a reduced risk for developing chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s longer. Why? Researchers believe that regular exercise leads to strong cardiovascular health and improved cellular function.
And if reducing your risk for diabetes and Alzheimer’s isn’t enough, this study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that regular exercise can literally add years to your life — anywhere from 2.5 to 4.5 years — even if you’re obese. Indeed, they found that obese people who exercised were healthier than their thinner couch potato counterparts. That’s because exercise, even without weight loss, is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Physically fit people also suffer fewer side effects from illness.
Here are 9 surprising health benefits of exercise:
- Sleep better. Regular exercise helps you sleep better, provided it’s not done within 2 to 3 hours of your bedtime. Exercise can also reduce and sometimes eliminate sleep apnea, a frustrating and potentially health-threatening sleep disorder that causes disruptions in breathing.
- Reduce your risk for skin cancer. Studies show that regular exercise lowers your risk for skin cancer, including life-threatening melanoma.
- Be happy. If you’ve heard of “runner’s high,” then you know that exercise makes people happy. That’s because exercise boosts mood-enhancing or feel-good endorphins.
- Reduce heartburn. Studies show that regular exercise, especially less stressful aerobic types like swimming and walking, reduce the severity of acid reflux or heartburn. And reducing heartburn can also help you sleep better.
- Improve your acne. Because regular exercise helps regulate blood sugar, it helps reduce inflammation which can improve acne. It also reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, which is an acne trigger.
- Have more energy. Many studies show that exercise, even just a few times a week, boosts energy. And morning exercisers reap the biggest benefit.
- Improve chronic pain. Losing weight is critical to improving chronic pain since the more weight you carry, the more pressure and pain to your joints and bones you’ll experience. Exercise also reduces pain because it reduces inflammation.
- Reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s. A 2012 study from Rush University Medical Center showed that daily exercise significantly reduced your risk for Alzheimer’s, even if —get this— you start exercising after the age of 80.
- Reduce your risk for psoriasis. A 2012 study from Harvard Medical School showed that vigorous aerobic exercise and calisthenics are associated with a reduced risk of psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin condition.
While this isn’t a direct health benefit, regular exercise saves you money by reducing the number of medications and doctor’s visits you’ll need. And who wouldn’t like that?
Tips for starting a morning exercise routine
They’re morning people. They don’t need as much sleep as I do. They don’t have kids.
Excuses. The best of us have them.
Working out is difficult for most. Finding time to work out is onerous. But consider this: Studies show that people who exercise in the morning are more consistent exercisers, less likely to find excuses, and less likely to make poor eating decisions later in the day.
Ways to make working out simpler
- Set your alarm at NIGHT to go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
- Set out your gym clothes before you go to bed.
- Once it’s time to get up, don’t try to argue yourself into working out. It doesn’t work. Instead, tell yourself, “I work out every day. That’s what I do.”
- Put on your gym clothes and lace up as soon as you stand up out of bed. Dressed like this, there’s no place to go except to work out.
- Talk someone else into getting up early. You’ll be up to 60% more likely to follow through with your exercise plan if you have a partner who holds you accountable.
Funny Fact: Exercise Less, Lose More
Still trying to shed those stubborn holiday pounds? You don’t have to starve yourself or run two hours a day to do so.
2012 Danish study published in The American Journal of Physiology showed that less exercise leads to more weight loss. Those who exercised 30 minutes daily for 3 months shed more weight than those who worked out 60 minutes daily. How can this be? Those who exercised less actually increased their activity level all day long, thereby burning more calories.
Got any tips for exercising in the morning? Please share them in comments.