Clearly, there is a correlation between being active and achieving weight loss. But, exercise offers other benefits you may not have considered.
A recent study organized by the World Heart Federation showed exercise can decrease the negative effects of quitting smoking, such as anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness and mood swings.
The study showed that active smokers were 55 percent more likely to quit than sedentary smokers. Researchers found that even those who ended up going back to tobacco but kept exercising lived an average of 3.6 years longer than sedentary smokers. Meanwhile, those who quit smoking and continued to exercise lived an average of 5.6 years longer.
Give you a kick
Despite the initial tired feeling immediately after exercising, it can give you more energy throughout the day.
Doing jumping jacks or briskly taking two stairs at a time can achieve the same effect as drinking a caffeinated beverage. An increased heart rate can make you more alert, mimicking the effects of caffeine, which chemically makes your heart beat faster.
In fact, most trainers suggest exercising at least four hours before bedtime, to allow your heart rate and body temperature to come down so you are able to fall asleep.
Prevent bone loss, ease arthritis pain
It sounds counterintuitive, but weight bearing activities can help prevent bone loss. Lake Regional Exercise Physiologist Jody Corpe, E.P., M.S., says that's because exercise strengthens the muscles around the bones.
"As the muscles and tendons are strengthened, they pull on the bone, stimulating the bone cells to create more bone material," Corpe says. "Your body knows that the bigger your muscles are, the stronger your bones have to be to support them."
For the same reason, exercise can help decrease arthritis pain. Strengthening the muscles around the joints can put less pressure on them. And, exercise can relieve some of the stiffness associated with arthritis.
"One of the benefits of exercise for joints is weight loss," Corpe says. "Taking off 1 pound of body weight can take off up to 5 pounds of pressure on joints, like knees, hips and ankles."
Protect your heart
If nothing else convinces you, exercise to protect your heart. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, just 30 minutes of physical activity per day, such as vigorous house cleaning, dancing or brisk walking, can help decrease a woman's chance of coronary heart disease by 30 percent to 40 percent.
GoRedForWomen.com suggests starting exercise by just taking a walk around the block. You don't have to make a gym membership commitment, and walking has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise program.