6 Reasons to Exercise even if you don't lose Weight

We all know exercise is very important to our overall health. Every New Year most of us set resolutions to lose weight but research has shown that most people stop exercising within a few weeks. I guess the reasons for exercising are not strong enough for people to sustain the activity. 
Just wanting to lose weight may not be the most motivating reason. We need to find better reasons to keep ourselves going. Having a long term vision to live a long, healthy, vibrant life is probably a better reason to get onto an exercise program which will also be sustainable. 
In the latest issue of Time magazine I came across an excellent article by Alexandra Sifferlin who has identified new research confirming 6 reasons we should exercise. Here are the 6 reasons why we should keep exercising. 
It has Mind-Body Benefits – This has been known for ages and we are sharper when we do exercise. The specific thing mentioned in this article is that out of 500 respondents who practice yoga it was such a mind-body practice that people find themselves more relaxed and mindful. I have also found this to be true for me as when I do exercise first thing in the morning my overall day goes better. 
It improves memory – I also read about this in Spark by John Ratey which was an amazing book on the benefits of exercise. Basically students who exercised scored better in grades and had better retention powers. If you read something immediately after exercise there is a better chance you will retain this information. There is a study published in the journal Current Biology which also indicates that exercising four hours after learning a task can help remember that task over the long term. 
It increases energy – This is absolutely a great reason to exercise. A note of caution here that is if you are just starting an exercise program initially you will feel a bit tired because of the extra effort. However if you hang in there and stay for a month you will reap the benefits. Hanging in there is the key to sustenance. This article reports that men who cycled for 20 minutes experienced a 166% increase in self-reported energy levels. 
It may stave of depression- There have been a lot of studies which have confirmed that when people who are depressed exercise on a consistent basis they are more likely to ensure the depression does not relapse than those who only take the prescribed medicine. In the study sighted in the article women who exercised for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week reported about 50% fewer depressive symptoms than women who didn’t exercise as much. 
It can curb cravings – I have found this to be true for me as well. When I exercise consistently I am more likely to eat better and reduce my cravings. It has been found that will power is elastic and exercise helps in ensuring that you don’t have to exercise it too much. In a study sighted in the article they found that people who exercised for 15 minutes after doing mental work ate 100 fewer calories than people who did mental work and remained sedentary. 
It reduces risk of serious cancers – The article mentions about a study where researchers at the National Cancer Institute analyzed data from 1.4 million people who reported their physical activity over a period of 11 years found that people who were more active had a 20% fewer risk of serious cancers.  This is excellent news and good reason to start exercising.
The bottom line is there are more reasons to exercise than just losing weight. In fact even if you don’t lose weight just sticking to an exercise program can bring more joy to your lives. Of course you should check with your doctor on the correct exercise program for you. The benefits of a consistent exercise program far out weigh the effort.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.


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