2016 is coming to an end, and now is the time to start planning for, and looking forward to 2017. Whether or not you are the sort of person who makes New Year’s Resolutions, we believe making the decision to get fit and healthy is a vital one for the year ahead – and here are just some of the reasons why.
1. Sleep better
It is no secret that how you act when you are awake greatly impacts how you sleep. In a time when increasing numbers of people report they have trouble sleeping or getting enough sleep, exercise could be the change you need to fix this. In a 2013 Sleep in America poll run by the National Sleep Foundation, it was found that 50% of people who did not exercise said they got fairly or very bad sleep, compared with just 17% of people who termed themselves “vigorous exercisers”.
2. Work better
People who exercise for half an hour a day, five days a week, have been shown to be far more effective workers. Frequent exercise keeps you sharp, makes you more productive, and boosts energy levels. So, while it may feel counter-intuitive to spend 30 minutes a day working out, instead of working for an extra half hour, in the long-term it can boost the quantity and quality of your work.
3. Feel better
As well as feeling fitter and better in your body, regular exercises does wonders for your mood. The extra blood flow to the brain helps lift spirits and mood-boosting endorphins are released as well. Exercising is an excellent stress reliever and has also been shown to ease depression and anxiety symptoms.
4. Good for your head
Exercise increases blood flow – and this includes blood flow to the brain. This means that exercising can leave you feeling more awake and focussed but it also has longer term implications for brain health. Exercising regularly can actually boost your memory skills and ability to learn, as it fuels the birth of new brain cells in the hippocampus. It can also help to protect against degenerative conditions associated with age – such as dementia and cognitive decline. It is even good for headaches! If you are a sufferer of migraine headaches, research suggests that exercise can be just as effective as relaxation therapy or medication for preventing these.
5. Good for your bones
While cardio exercise is excellent for helping to lose weight and boost general fitness, it is important to incorporate some strength training into your routine as well. One part of you which will particularly benefit from this sort of exercise is your bones. Like muscle, bones are made of living tissue and, as such, can be strengthened with regular exercise. Frequent strength training can help build up bone strength which, in the long-term, can help prevent against age-related conditions such as osteoporosis.
6. Good for your insides (diabetes, gastrointestinal tract, cancer)
Unless you overdo it, regular exercise is better for your overall health, boosting your immune system and causing you to get sick less frequently. While fewer colds a year is a huge bonus, exercise can help protect you against far more severe illnesses as well. Regular physical activity has been shown to have a significant impact on certain types of cancer, it has been shown to help with a number of gastrointestinal tract complaints, such as diverticulosis, cholelithiasis and inflammatory bowel disease. It reduces the levels of bad cholesterol in your body and increases the levels of good cholesterol, which helps protect you against heart disease. It also increases your insulin sensitivity, meaning your muscles are more able to take in glucose, lowering your risk of contracting type II diabetes.
Regular physical activity is good for your eyesight, your blood pressure, your muscles and joints and, perhaps most importantly of all, it can help you to live longer. Studies suggest that even 15 minutes of exercise a day can add as much as three years to your life. A resolution which can mean you have more New Years? What could be better than that?