Let’s face it–there are stereotypical assumptions often tied to why people work out.
Usually, people conclude that it must be to lose weight if you work out regularly or start a new fitness regimen, especially after those winter months (hello, post-holiday “fluff”!).
There’s nothing wrong with that; we know that obesity is a serious problem, and not just in Canada. In fact, the latest statistics show that more than 1.9 billion adults across the globe are overweight–and out of those, 650 million adults are considered obese.
However, at the end of the day, the choice to work out is a very personal, individual one–and there are many reasons why someone might choose to engage in a fitness journey.
Here are five reasons to work out that have absolutely nothing to do with losing weight.
GAIN LEAN MUSCLE MASS
Lean muscle mass isn’t the bulky, “ripped” muscle you may be picturing. Lean muscle is densely packed with contractile tissue, as opposed to lower quality muscle, which contains more fat and connective tissue. In a nutshell, lean muscles do not have a lot of fat surrounding or inside them.
Gaining lean muscle mass has a wealth of benefits. These include building bone density and improving your metabolism. It has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance–a very important factor since more insulin in the circulation raises blood sugar levels, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Lean muscle mass counteracts this mechanism, allowing the body to remove excess insulin from the bloodstream efficiently.
LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
We all know high blood pressure is bad. A whopping 23% of Canadian adults aged 20 to 79 have been diagnosed with hypertension by a healthcare professional, are using anti-hypertensive medications, or have high measured blood pressure corresponding to stage 2 hypertension.
Physical activity strengthens the heart, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently and with less strain on the arteries. Not to mention that exercise helps with weight management, which in turn regulates blood pressure.
If you already have high blood pressure, bear in mind that weight training may cause a temporary jump in blood pressure, so see your doctor before beginning a program. There are, however, safe ways to strength train to offset the short-term increase and gain the long-term benefits of decreased blood pressure. Regular exercise can even take the place of blood pressure medication for some people.
Stress levels are at an all-time high–but we probably don’t have to tell you that. While many people turn to meditation, rest or other calming activities to mitigate their stress, research shows that physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress on a daily basis.
You’re too busy, you say? Well, if you think you’re too busy to exercise, exercise is likely precisely what you need. Physical activity raises endorphin levels, hormones generated in the brain that produce a “feel good” sensation. Exercise also serves as a type of meditation, distracting you from the stresses of daily life. You may notice that you are becoming more clear-headed and relaxed on a regular basis. Win-win!
Getting hurt is never good, especially when it comes to functional physical activities. If you’ve ever had a strain, break, or tear, you know that these injuries tend to occur in areas of the body that are weaker or more unbalanced than others. To recover from such injuries, you must strengthen the surrounding area.
Weak muscles are more prone to injury due to their inability to hold up under the demands placed on them, both during daily activities (like walking, bending down, and squatting) and during exercise. Stronger muscles mean stronger tendons, ligaments, and bones.
Keep in mind that you need to exercise smart to avoid injuring yourself while attempting to strengthen your muscles…to prevent injuries. Begin carefully and with form in mind, gradually increasing the weight you use. Rest your muscles properly between workouts, warm-up before each workout, and stretch to keep your flexibility.
Who doesn’t want to get more ZZ’s and get better-quality sleep? Working out is a great way to make that happen.
Physical activity expends energy, which promotes better sleep in a variety of ways. Exercise raises the body’s core temperature, and when it declines post-exercise, it causes you to feel sleepy. Furthermore, those who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders may discover that exercise reduces tension and anxiety, allowing for better sleep.
Regular exercise improves not only sleep quantity but also sleep quality by increasing the amount of time spent in deep sleep. A good night’s sleep will help to boost the body’s immune system. You’ll be healthier overall!
However, exercising too close to bedtime may have the reverse impact, increasing energy or disrupting sleep. Excessive exercise, or overtraining, can also make it difficult to sleep.
Deciding to exercise regularly doesn’t automatically have to be about weight loss. You can choose to work out for any of hundreds of reasons! At the end of the day, the goal is to contribute to a healthier lifestyle and overall wellness, whatever that looks like for you.
At Buzzfit, we try to provide the ideal environment for our members to work out–whatever reason they may have for hitting the gym. Whether you’re new to fitness or an avid gym-goer, our gyms include tons of equipment, helpful staff, and a friendly, no-pressure atmosphere. Check out what we have to offer at our 13 Montreal-area locations!