8 Little-Known Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has been praised for years for its effects on fat burning, muscle building and disease prevention, but what about the benefits that reach beyond the scale? Benefits such as a clearer complexion and better sleep at night are just a few of the unexpected health benefits you may discover after a few weeks of consistent exercise. Read on to find out more about the unknown (but totally awesome!) benefits of exercise!

1) Clear your Skin

That morning jog doesn’t just burn calories; it also helps your complexion! Exercise helps nourish the skin by increasing blood flow, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the skin. These nutrients can then be better used by the skin to fight free radicals, small compounds which can lead to premature aging.

Exercising is also like a mini-facial for the skin. When you workout, the pores in your skin dilate, pushing out the trapped dirt and gunk that often collects in them. As long as you wash your face soon after your workout, you’ve just burned some calories and helped give yourself radiant skin!

2) Less Stress and Anxiety

Having a rough day? Skip the bubble bath and instead break a sweat. Those feel-good endorphins that are released during and after exercise can help those with anxiety — and even depression — feel better. In fact, in some cases exercise has been just as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. For this reason, doctors commonly prescribe plenty of sweat-time for those with anxiety or depression.

3) Boost Brain Power

Watch out crossword puzzles, there’s a new brain booster in town! Recent studies on both mice and men have revealed that exercise can create new brain cells, all while improving the brain’s overall performance. Students rejoice! Studies also suggest that a tough workout can increase levels of brain-derived protein in the body, which means you’ll be better at decision making, remembering and learning.

4) More Zzzzz’s

Tired of counting sheep all night? For some people, exercise is just as good as a sleeping pill. Exercising causes the body’s core temperature to rise, which is why a workout can leave you feeling energized. When the body temperature drops back down however, it signals the body that its time to relax and can prompt it into feeling as though it’s time for sleep. Just be sure to give your body plenty of time to come down from its exercise-induced adrenaline high before attempting to saw those logs. 

5) More Self-Confidence

What good is all that sweating if you aren’t feeling better about yourself? Regardless of if the scale is moving up or down, exercise can help improve one’s self-worth — and while losing weight and getting into better shape are all wonderful things, nothing can be more impactful than an improvement in your self-esteem or self-image. This boost in confidence may be related to those feel-good endorphins that are released during and after a workout, but we think it also comes from the feeling of accomplishing a tough workout!

6) Fight Cognitive Decline

We can’t fight time and the aging that comes with it (yet), but we can fight the sluggishness that happens in the brain as a result! Over time and with age our brain actually shrinks, which can lead to a loss of important brain functions. As depressing as that may sound, the good news is we can protect our brains — with exercise! Exercising regularly boosts chemicals in the hippocampus, an important section of the brain that controls memory. The boost of these chemicals can help to support and even prevent the degeneration of brain performance over time.

7) Boost Productivity

Tired of staring endlessly at your computer waiting for inspiration to strike? Get up and move! Studies show that workers who exercise regularly are more productive and have more energy than their sedentary co-workers. While a busy workday can make it tough to squeeze in a workout, even a short walk during your lunch break can greatly increase your productivity and performance in the office. So get up and get those creative juices flowing!

8) Give Your Immune System a Lift

Have you ever noticed how healthy people who exercise regularly rarely get sick? Sure it may be due in part to a nutrient-rich diet, but exercise also plays a huge role in keeping your immune system running strong. This is because exercise provides a boost to the cells in our body that are designed to attack bacteria and pathogens. These cells appear to work slower in people who don’t exercise, which is why they might find themselves calling in sick to work more than their fit co-workers!

Working out can have far more benefits than just helping you look good come swim suit season. From clearing your complexion, boosting your productivity and even giving your immune system a lift, there are so many reasons why you should start hitting the gym today!


Kat Condon has been a health and wellness writer since 2009. As a certified Holistic Health Coach and Physical Fitness/Wellness Trainer, she has contributed to the teen magazine “Miabella” as well as several online publications. When she isn’t working you can find Kat in the kitchen developing something tasty but still nutritious — and most likely covered in chocolate!