You already know the basics: working out helps you stay healthy and keep in shape—but that’s just the beginning of the benefits regular exercise can provide. Incorporating exercise into your daily life is vital for physical, emotional and mental health. From sleeping better to making you smarter, read on to find out how important exercise is to a happy, healthy life.

Exercise reduces chronic disease risk

Strive for your fitness goals today and your future-self will thank you. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, regular exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of a heart attack, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, as well as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Working out consistently also promotes stronger bones, muscles and joints, lowering the risk of osteoporosis.

Exercise gives you an energy boost

We all have days when working out is the last thing in the world we want to do. However, many researchers agree that more exercise could actually be the key to fighting exhaustion. This is because physical activity helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, allowing you to have greater endurance throughout the day.

Taking that first step is hardest, but you’re likely to feel more energised after your workout. Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to skip your training session.

Exercise helps you get more shut-eye

Research shows that all exercise will help improve sleep quality, however, aerobic exercise (e.g., long-distance running, circuit training, kickboxing—anything that increases heart rate and breathing rate in a way that can be sustained for the session) is the type most associated with getting a good night’s sleep. If you prefer to workout in the evening, it’s best not to exercise within two hours before bed, so you can fall asleep easily.

Exercise makes you feel better

Increased energy and sleeping better means your emotional and mental health will improve, too. There is also substantial research that shows regular exercise is effective for managing depression and anxiety disorders. So next time you’re having a stressful day, hit the gym to blow off steam.

Exercise boosts your brain power

It turns out your muscles aren’t the only part of you getting a workout when you hit the gym—exercise is good for your brain, too. Studies show that regular exercise can increase creativity, reasoning skills and reaction times, as well as boost memory. A 30-minute cardio session will pump extra blood to your brain, giving it the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at its best.

Exercise improves confidence (and your social life!)

Nothing beats that confidence-boost you get when you reach a fitness milestone, whether it’s achieving a toned body, crossing the finish line of a 5K marathon or becoming strong enough to do a pull-up. Self-confidence has a wealth of benefits, including managing your fears and overcoming challenges while maintaining a positive mental attitude. Healthy self-esteem levels also allow you to be more open to meeting new people and making friends, which, in turn, helps you develop a support network that can encourage you on your fitness journey.

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