Wellness Facts 5 immediate benefits of exercising

We struggle with delayed gratification in all parts of life, not just when it comes to achieving our fitness goals.

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Immediate perks of working out play

Immediate perks of working out

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By now, we all know that getting our sweat on does wonders for our physical and mental health but that doesn’t make it any easier to get us off the couch and get our blood pumping, especially when six-pack abs don’t happen overnight.

When asked, people give lots of reasons for why they work out: to gain more strength and endurance, manage weight, and look better.

Those motivations, the model-hot looks, or at least some improved definition, and health impacts are the long-term benefits.

The reality is that it’s hard to get excited about long-term benefits. That’s just not the way our brains are built because we’re wired for instant gratification.

We struggle with delayed gratification in all parts of life, not just when it comes to achieving our fitness goals.

In the famous Stanford marshmallow experiment, children were given the choice between eating a small snack now, or waiting 15 minutes for a larger snack.

Two-thirds ended up eating the smaller snack that was in front of them rather than waiting for the bigger promised snack.

While the long-term benefits of breaking a sweat are definitely worth the wait, there are also some powerful perks you'll experience right away.

We know that for many of us, those are much more likely to convince us to head to the gym right now.

So read on for 5 instant gratifications you are bound to get from working out.

1) Boosts your mood

You don’t need an hour-long, high-intensity workout to trigger a grin. Just 20 minutes of jogging has been found to elevate mood and surprisingly the intensity doesn’t matter.

In fact, there’s reason to believe that pushing yourself too hard delays or reduces the lift in your mood. So choose a workout you’re comfortable with and ride that exercise high for hours.

2) Helps you sleep like a baby

The secret to a better night’s sleep could lie in a visit to the gym. In an Italian study, folks who worked out in the morning fell asleep quicker, slept longer, and woke up less frequently.

If you’re looking to maximize your sleep time, stick to cardio. While strength training helped study participants have a good night’s sleep, cardio impacted sleep quality even the next night.

Other research has shown that exercise leads to more deep sleep, which is not so surprising when you consider that growth hormone, the thing that repairs tired and torn muscles, spikes during deep sleep.

3) Improves your self-esteem

We all want to feel like we’re on top of the world, and working out can be just the thing to boost your confidence.

Researchers in Norway found that children who exercised regularly showed signs of improved self-esteem in the short term after working out 

Other research has found that achieving a goal whether it be doing a few push-ups or learning to do a handstand, has a positive benefit on the way we view ourselves.

We don’t even have to be aware that we have that goal in the first place. Meeting unconscious goals, like that vague intention to work out that you’re feeling right now, also gives a self-esteem boost.

4) Helps you think more clearly

Moderate aerobic exercise (like running or cycling for 30 minutes) can make us seem super-human with our reaction speed and improve our problem solving abilities, just the things you need for a productive day at the office.

Try not to push too hard too fast. High-intensity interval training has been found to cause physical fatigue that also makes your reactions slower.

5) Have as much fun as possible

Research has found that minimizing pain (or perceived pain) from working out can be as simple as thinking about the activity as something you’ll actually enjoy.

After all, liking a specific workout is a strong predictor of whether you’ll return again. One quick trick to make exercise more fun: Make sure you’re listening to some bumping beats throughout your workout.

This kind of enjoyable distraction can double the mood-enhancing impact of exercise.

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