When asked, most people would cite two primary reasons for exercise: 1) to lose weight, and 2) to get stronger. It’s true, exercise can help you do both of those things (although, when it comes to weight loss, diet can be a much more powerful variable – see my posts on that here and here). However, many people lose motivation quickly when they don’t see the results they expect after they’ve begun an exercise program. Because everyone’s body responds differently to exercise, two different people might get very different results from the same exercise program.
If you’re not seeing the results you want, and become demotivated to exercise, there’s something I want to keep in mind: there are NUMEROUS benefits of exercise. While you may not be seeing rapid weight loss or muscle increase, you can be sure that virtually any exercise you do is vastly superior to none. Below is a short list of the benefits of exercise you might not be seeing but are happening to your body anyway.
– disease prevention (including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s)
– improved blood function
– improved mental function
– stress/anxiety reduction (increases soothing brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine)
– increased happiness and decreased symptoms of depression
– regulation of your endocrine system
– improved sleep patterns
– improved energy
– appetite control
Many people beginning exercise programs have a hard time imagining how exercise can do things like make you happier or lead to more energy. Initially, exercise can seem like a terrible chore. In my experience, many people begin by trying to do too much. Depending on your fitness level, effective exercise can range from anything between walking for ten minutes to running a marathon. The bottom line is that something is better than nothing.
Start at a level that works for you, a place that doesn’t make you want to never do exercise again. And slowly build your way up. After a while, you’ll start to notice the positive benefits of exercise. You may even find yourself wanting to do it, whether you’re noticing rapid changes in your body composition (fat and muscle) or not.