It helps you manage depression and stress
Is there anything more energy-depleting than feeling stressed out or down about life? Aerobic exercise can help you better regulate your mood and respond to stressors. Dr. Hibbert says the key is to find the right exercise to tackle different types of stress. "If we’re feeling really anxious, lifting weights is the best thing to do. It removes tension from the body," she says. "For mental stress, do yoga. It brings clarity of mind. For a bad mood, the best thing to do is cardio. It releases endorphins, gets the heart pumping, and boosts your spirits."
If nothing else, focusing your attention on your body should be a welcome relief from financial, romantic, or work-related woes.
Chronic exercisers excel in their careers
If you’ve ever felt guilty for sneaking out of work to take a jog, put your mind at ease -- exercise has actually been linked to success for both workers and their companies. "There’s a lot of research that shows we’re more productive at work when we exercise," says Dr. Hibbert. "We face tasks with a fresh mind, instead of feeling burdened and overwhelmed. Companies that take exercise breaks together or promote exercise in the workplace find that employees are much more productive, find greater success, and have more satisfaction with their jobs."
Contrary to what your boss might believe, leaving your desk for an hour to pump some iron actually leads to more output from workers. One study found that workers who exercised for 30-60 minutes during the workday experienced a 15% uptick in productivity.
You'll sleep better
Habitual insomniacs are all too familiar with the frustration of tossing and turning all night long. But rather than using pills to hit the pillow, Dr. Sujay Kansagra, sleep health consultant for Mattress Firm and director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program, prescribes a healthy regimen of physical activity.
"Regular daytime exercise is shown to improve sleep quality and allow for more consistent sleep. This leads to less complaints of daytime sleepiness among those that exercise and may help insomniacs sleep better over the long term," he says. "But keep in mind that the elevation in body temperature immediately after exercise may make it harder to fall asleep. Therefore, if you exercise late in the evening and find it hard to get to bed, try moving your exercise routine to earlier in the day."
It puts money back in your pocket
Treating diseases is seriously expensive for insurance companies. A lot more expensive than, say, offering cash bonuses to people who get proactive with their health through exercising, which is exactly what UnitedHealthcare has started to do for some of its members. The wellness program provides members with wearable devices that track the number, frequency, and intensity of their daily steps, rewarding physical activity. There have been calls for other insurers to follow suit. Suddenly that pricey Equinox membership doesn’t seem so prohibitive…