Just the Facts: Fitness and Our Health


Here’s “Just the Facts,” a series where we scour Greatist’s archives for the most vital need-to-know nuggets on any given subject. It’s the no-noise info you gotta have, the way you gotta have it.





Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

Think about the last time you exercised (hopefully it’s not a too distant memory). What was your motivation? Perhaps you were taking part in a team sport? Wanted to burn some dinner calories? Or simply had to take your dog for a walk?





While there are a bunch of totally valid incentives to exercise, the biggest benefit is the positive impact on both your physical and mental health. No need to be a world-class athlete, either. A low-key yoga session or brisk walk can prove more beneficial than you might realize.





Curious about how it works? Limber up as we work off 27 facts about fitness.





Run circles around stats





Forget what the stopwatch or calorie counter says: these are the figures that really matter when it comes to working out.





1. Runners are 40 percent more likely to distance themselves from disease





A 2017 review found those who regularly pound the pavements are at lower risk of early death from disease. See you down at the track.





2. Just 10 minutes of exercise makes a difference





Especially when it comes to lowering incidence of heart disease, so no excuses if you’re pressed for time.





3. But aim for 30 minutes for optimum benefits





Experts at the Center for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) state we should aim to achieve 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which works out at 30 minutes per day over 5 days.





4. 10K keeps the doctor away





Walking 10,000 steps per day can significantly improve mood. Ramp it up to 15K to lower your risk of metabolic syndrome. Check out other ways walking benefits your health.





5. High five for high noon





Not a morning person? You’re in luck. Studies suggest working out at midday is best, especially if you want to boost productivity.





Bodybuilding





Sure, we’ve all heard that exercise is good for the heart — but you might be surprised by just how many ways getting your sweat on does your whole body good.





6. Exercise boosts immunity





Whether you want to arm yourself against the dreaded Rona or a trifling seasonal cold (remember those?), getting your heart pumping helps boost your natural defenses.





7. …And any workouts count





Good news for yogis and runners alike: engaging in any form of exercise aids in bolstering your immunity levels.





8. Lower that sugar high





No matter how big your sweet tooth, if your body is unable to respond to insulin — the chemical that helps you break down and absorb glucose — this can lead to big problems (think: diabetes). Fortunately, regular exercise keeps insulin resistance in check.





9. A Downward (guard) Dog can chase off inflammation





More than just a swollen ankle, inflammation can contribute to everything from arthritis and cancer to heart disease and digestive issues. While studies show a combo of cardio and weight training can help keep this at bay, yoga is also a proven ally.





10. The grind and the greens go hand in hand





You grew up hearing how important veggies are to your health, but they can’t act alone. To enhance and maintain your bone and muscle strength, you’re also gonna need to exercise.





11. Exercise helps to ease the menstrual misery





Ladies, rejoice! Working out might feel like the last thing you want to do once PMS hits. Yet, a good sweat sesh could be just what’s needed to banish those menstrual blues.





12. You can walk off sick days





Walking for just 30 minutes each day can help lower your chances of getting sick — along with a host of other great benefits.





13. Refined core values lead to core benefits





Pilates devotees are known for their enviable abs. But you don’t need to be a daily grinder to get benefits. Even 1 session per week can lead to improved balance and flexibility





14. Getting fitter leads to stronger swimmers





If you see children in your future, increasing your own physical strength and endurance can do the same for your sperm.





15. You can have too much of a good thing





Turns out that pushing yourself to the limits too often can have a negative effect on your well-being — particularly in regard to heart health. We’ve got the lowdown.





Brain gains





Though working out is primarily a physical activity, the health benefits extend well into the brain — making exercise a true well-being hero.





16. Sprints + sit-ups = sayonara, stress





Most people are aware that exercise can help to zap anxiety, but understanding the science behind it can help you feel even better.





17. Your exercise regimen brings both strong and bright returns





Similar to anxiety relief, the release of endorphins can help notably relieve symptoms of depression. In fact, one study found exercise to be just as effective as medication.





18. Keeping your muscles toned also keeps your mind toned





As we age, both our bodies and our minds take a hit. While we can’t stop this from happening, we can take steps to slow the process — which includes regular physical activity.





19. You can run the recall race at your own pace





Often find yourself wondering where you left your glasses, or forgetting what time you’re supposed to meet your BFF? Exercise encourages the production of brain cells linked to memory and learning. So next time you run, do it for recollection.





20. Swimming leads to better sleep





So does any exercise, for that matter. Regular workouts enhance your slumber and optimum shut-eye is key to good health. If you’re having trouble nodding off, read more about the sleep-exercise relationship.





21. Getting sweaty is great for self-esteem





Feeling in need of a confidence boost? Ramping up your heart rate can assist in raising levels of self-esteem and banishing negative thoughts about body image.





22. Movement helps to treat ADHD





If you’re in the market for a more natural treatment option, try increasing your number of workouts — as exercise is a great approach to help expel some of that pent up energy.





Productivity bonuses





Want to get even more health benefits from your workouts? We’re feeling generous, so check out these extra tips and tricks…





23. There’s even more outdoors





From soaking up vitamin D to reveling in nature’s beauty, exercising outdoors can elevate those mind and body benefits a few more notches.





24. Mixing things up helps you maximize benefits





If HIIT is your thing, the calmer pace of yoga might sound like a yawn-fest. But, as we reveal, engaging in a variety of workouts can have positive effects on both immunity and inflammation.





25. The daily grind totally counts





You don’t have to be in gym gear to obtain the benefits of exercise. Activities such as cleaning, cooking, and even shopping can get your heart rate up and your core working.





26. Sex is a (really) close second





Getting down and dirty doesn’t quite equate to a gym session, but an energetic romp can still burn 3.6 calories per minute; and lead to improved immunity and life expectancy (to name but a couple).





27. Working off the calories helps to work off those healthcare $$$





If time is money, half-hour bouts of exercise could save you a whole bunch o’ cash. It’s estimated that for every dollar you spend on working out, you’ll save nearly three dollars in future healthcare costs. Show us the money!





Out of breath? We feel ya. But next time you feel like quitting those burpees, or those planks start getting just too damn hard, take a moment to consider the myriad long-term benefits you’ll reap from your effort.





Chantelle Pattemore is a writer and editor based in London, UK. She focuses on lifestyle, health, beauty, food, and fitness.