10 Reasons to Exercise Walking, running, swimming and cycling are the antidote to everything from stress and low self esteem to Y2K. Anyway, they are powerful and life-changing. Here's how:
Quality of Life. There's no guarantee you'll live longer by adopting a fitness lifestyle, but chances are you will live better. It's the ultimate revenge: a full, healthy, happy life.
Fun. Even if you hated sports as a kid-picked last for the softball team, creamed in dodgeball-remember that walking, running, swimming, and cycling are different. No one screams at or slams into you, you compete as much or as little as you want, you're outdoors, and you set the pace. It's play, not work.
Confidence Booster. By setting an exercise goal-however modest-and progressing toward it, you become more self-assured. As you begin to feel and look fitter and healthier, you gain confidence.
Forget Dieting. Working out burns lots of calories-and raises your metabolism so you consume them at a higher rate than a sedentary person even when you're not exercising. Bottom line: You can control your weight without starving yourself by eating a healthy, balanced diet (including the occasional chocolate sundae).
Stress Relief. Feeling tense? Overwhelmed? Unappreciated? Taking regular exercise breaks, as short as 30 minutes a day, can refresh and relax you. Use the time to calm yourself, regain perspective on what's important, or even figure out a solution to a problem.
Fat-Be-Gone. By working out, you're losing fat and gaining muscle. Regular exercisers often have body fat levels at least 5% lower than the average person. You'll probably go down a clothing size or two, because muscle, though heavier than fat, takes up less space.
Instant Friends. Everybody tends to loosen up when they're sweaty and out of breath. Participatory sports provide an accessible, non-threatening, casual atmosphere for meeting people. Opportunities abound: fun runs, a swim workout or lesson, a group bike ride, an organized hike.
A Spring in Your Step. Working out can raise your VO2 max (the amount of oxygen your muscles can use) by up to 40%. That means you have more energy and everyday tasks become easier.
Cold-Killer. Aerobic exercise bolsters your immune system. You're better prepared to fight off viruses and other nasty stuff.
A Tougher Ticker. Endurance sports such as running, walking, swimming and cycling strengthen your cardiovascular system. Your heart becomes more efficient and less susceptible to disease.
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