10 Reasons to Get Your Sweat On
Fast Company recently reported on a new University of Washington study on exercise rates and obesity. The study showed that while the percentage of Americans doing “sufficient” levels of exercise rose between 2001-2011, obesity levels rose as well. Only nine counties included in the study showed a decrease in obesity levels — and overall, “a 1% increase in physical activity led to only 0.11% lower prevalence of obesity.”
This is a familiar question — what impacts our waistlines more — what we put in our bodies or what we burn during exercise? Overall data show that food moves the needle most, supporting current efforts around food labeling/calorie transparency, policy/tax changes, and food-based public health programs. And when it comes to weight, I completely agree.
But when it comes to life, I think exercise has the potential to impact our lives more than food can. Here are 10 reasons why:
- Exercise makes us less stressed/anxious
- Exercise gets us outside so we can soak up the sun’s vitamin D and get some fresh air and experience the world around us
- Exercise makes our brains work better
- Exercise keeps our bones strong
- Exercise keeps our hearts healthy
- Exercise boosts our energy
- Exercise helps us sleep better
- Exercise boosts libido
- Exercise improves body image
- Exercise inspires your kids to get moving too
And beyond this, in my case, exercise often triggers a positive cycle — if I’m working out more, I tend to crave healthier food and want to take better overall care of myself. If I fall off the exercise train for a bit, my diet is likely to suffer too. They’re mutually supportive or doubly dangerous.
So if you’re purely looking to drop a dress size, cutting back on calories will likely get you results faster than pounding out miles on the treadmill. But if you’re interested in kickstarting or maintaining broader health, bike/run/swim/box/walk/hike/kayak/SUP/ski/surf/yoga on!