We’ve spent a lot of time over the past month reviewing diet plans. While some of us use weight loss as our primary motivator to exercise, an improved body image shouldn’t be the main reason for exercise. Physical activity has far more meaningful health benefits than the number on the scale.

Often times, regular exercise doesn’t necessarily equate to weight loss but that doesn’t mean you aren’t doing your health a world of good. The benefits of exercise go far beyond what the scale says.

𝗔𝗻𝘁𝗶-𝗜𝗻𝗳𝗹𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆, 𝗖𝗼𝗴𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲, 𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗼𝘃𝗮𝘀𝗰𝘂𝗹𝗮𝗿, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗠𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗰 𝗕𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗘𝘅𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗼𝗿 𝗪𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗪𝗲𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗟𝗼𝘀𝘀

Let’s take a look at some research studies illustrating the health benefits of exercise.

Study 1-

This study looked at cardiovascular health, and found that exercise can significantly reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease even without causing any notable weight loss. A lot of people try to lose weight to improve their heart health, but exercise can reduce dangerous visceral fat (fat around the organs) and waist circumference, and improve cardiovascular fitness without changing any numbers on the scale.

Study 2-

This research study looked at obese, frail elderly people, which is a group incredibly vulnerable to all kinds of chronic diseases. The researchers divided the people into three groups: a weight-loss diet group, an exercise group, and a diet + exercise group. After 1 year of that, they measured their cognitive function and quality of life. The exercise group didn’t lose any significant amount of weight (which you’d expect, considering that exercise without a change in diet is ineffective for weight loss). But without causing any weight loss, the exercise group improved cognitive function as much as the diet + exercise group, and way better than the diet alone. The diet barely added any benefit. The vast majority of the benefits came from exercise, and they came totally independent of any weight loss.

Study 3-

In this study researchers looked at the effects of 12 weeks of exercise in obese, middle-aged men with liver problems. Fatty liver disease is strongly associated with obesity, and a lot of people think that weight loss will help improve their liver health, but this study showed that weight loss wasn’t actually necessary. The exercise barely caused any weight loss, but it helped improve insulin sensitivity, reduced liver inflammation, and generally improved various different markers of liver health just as well as a weight-loss diet.

Study 4-

No surprise here. In a study of exercise for children, researchers found that exercise improves insulin sensitivity and metabolic health independently of calorie restriction or weight change.

Study 5-

In a research study for women, exercise has multiple benefits for breast cancer protection independent of weight loss.

As you can see from these studies highlighted above, weight loss and improved body image are nice side benefits of exercise, but the most important benefits are the health improvements gained on the inside.

As we age, the importance of staying active is magnified. Things we often take for granted such as balance or walking up and down stairs can become a challenge if we allow ourselves to become couch potatoes.

Do yourself a favor and incorporate an exercise routine into your daily routine. You’ll be so glad you did later in life!

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