9 reasons to start exercising

9 reasons to start exercising

Are you also struggling to take that first step towards exercising? You know it would be good for your body, that is common knowledge, but you keep finding excuses not to start (yet).

In this blog post I made a quick overview of 9 reasons to start exercising. This way you really understand how come exercising is so beneficial instead of just knowing “it’s good for your health”.

Most of these benefits are also to be found (briefly) on the website for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1. I definitely recommend you to read into that website, it will give you valuable and trustworthy information. In this post I added other research data to explain the benefits a bit more.

Reason 1: Lowers risk of developing cancer

Regularly exercising may reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. Most strong evidence is for following cancers1-5:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Renal (kidney) cancer
  • Gastric (stomach) cancer
  • Lung cancer (but under debate, biggest cause in reduced risk could be stopping to smoke)

For other cancers the evidence is there, but less convincing5.

How is this possible you may wonder? Through the many health benefits exercising has on your body. It reduces the levels of sex hormones, reduces the insulin in your blood, reduces inflammation and time of digestion (so the gastrointestinal tract is less exposed to possible carcinogens). Exercising also prevents obesity, improves your immune system and alters the metabolism of bile acids (again so the gastrointestinal tract has less exposure to carcinogens)5.

Physical activity is also linked to improved survival and also lowers the risk of relapsing1,5,6. While being treated for cancer, it is possible to still do exercises, albeit with the necessary precautions6.

Reason 2: Lowers risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Lower risk of diabetes

Regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and can help you control your blood glucose levels1. In an article from 2018 the researchers observed a decrease in type 2 diabetes when people joined a strength training program. In resistance training the body improves insulin sensitivity and increases glucose transport2. These are important mechanisms that are involved in developing diabetes (type 2). Besides resistance training, it is also aerobic training that improves insulin action, as long as you stay committed to regular exercise3.

It is the combination of both aerobic and resistance training that is thought to be most effective in controlling glucose and lipids4. For people with less time but still the desire to workout and enjoy the health benefits, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a good solution4.

To conclude: there is a wide range of evidence that proves that exercising aids in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

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Reason 3: Maintains or builds muscle and bone strength

build muscle through exercise

As we grow older with age we experience reduced muscle mass and muscle strength. Luckily, muscular training activities like lifting weights can help maintain & increase muscle mass, strength, and prevent osteoporosis by slowing down the loss of bone density1,7.

Lifting weights doesn’t mean you will become a bodybuilder. You can do customized workouts to keep your bones and muscles strong without having that super muscular body (unless that’s what you’re aiming for of course).

If you’re having troubles with your back muscles or bones, you can read about my blog posts about back problems. You can start doing these exercises (5 easy exercises for back pain) immediately to start feeling the benefits of exercising.

Reason 4: Prevents obesity

Regular exercise, along with the proper diet, can play an important role in controlling your weight and preventing obesity1. The formula of gaining weight (and vice versa losing weight) is easy: if you take in more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Of course the details of this mechanism are a bit more complex, but, in a way, all you need to do is consume less calories and/or burn more in order to get your healthy weight.

In an experiment by Kim BY et al. (2017), they found that obese participants show greater weight loss when diet and exercise are combined, but ongoing moderate physical activity is recommended to prevent gaining the weight again you just lost8.

Obesity is prevented by physical activity by9:

  • Raising the amount of energy (or calories) burned in a day
  • Decreasing fat around the waist (and thus overall total body fat)
  • Building muscle mass, so more energy to burn more calories even at rest
  • Improving your mood, thus you being less likely to get those snacks to control your emotions

Reason 5: Reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases

Regular physical activity lowers the risk of heart diseases (such as high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks). This is because exercise not only strengthens the heart and improves blood circulation, but it also lowers your blood pressure and has a positive effect on cholesterol and triglyceride levels1,7. More activity also means a lower risk10.

The recommended guideline by the World Health Organization (WHO) is moderate-intensity physical activity of a minimum of 150 minutes per week or vigorous-intensity physical activity for minimum 75 minutes per week. In a research comparing inactive people to people who do meet the WHO-guidelines on physical activity they find that the latter group had a 7% lower lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease in men and even an 11% lower risk in women, all aged between 45-8511.

Note that even though meeting the WHO recommendations on physical activity, your risk for cardiovascular disease is also linked to other factors like smoking and unhealthy eating10. So it is not just about the physical activity, you’ll have to make other lifestyle changes as well to really lower your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease.

Reason 6: Improves your mental health

mental health improves through exercise

Regular exercise gives us structure, purpose, energy, and motivation. It reduces how much we overthink and will help managing stress and anxiety. This will help reduce symptoms of depression when already diagnosed or prevent depression from developing. Physical activity can help build your self-esteem as people will create better fitness and a more positive self-perception. Group workouts also make you connect more with people, making you feel less lonely. It is important though to find the right activities for you that you’ll actually enjoy12,13,14.

Finally, you have to realize that even if you don’t have much time, every minute of exercise counts. Start with short workout sessions and slowly build it up and make it a habit14.

Reason 7: Gives you better sleep at night

It has been shown that regular, moderate exercise can increase your sleep duration, give you a better sleep quality and make you fall asleep sooner15. The idea behind is that when you exercise you increase your slow wave sleep (= your deep sleep). The mental benefits exercise give you also aid in falling asleep better16. Interestingly enough, the timing of your exercise has an impact on how your sleep is affected. When you exercise during the day (preferably even early morning) you will help your body sleep better at night. Be aware though, exercising right before going to bed (or within 3 hours of bedtime) is not recommended15,17. Doing a high-intensity workout an hour before going to bed may even have a negative impact on your sleep time and efficiency15.

Reason 8: Makes you feel more energized

Exercise combats stress and fatigue so you end up feeling more energized. When your body is active, more oxygen/energy is sent to your body’s cells. Once exercising is routine, it won’t feel like you don’t have energy to start, but rather make you feel more mentally and physically ready to do your workout17.

We talked about exercise giving you better sleep quality, this also makes you feel more energized, since you recover more during a better sleep. When you exercise, your body releases more of your endorphins (a hormone released when doing something needing much energy). This higher level of endorphins gives you a happy/energized feeling (aka “runner’s high”)18.

Lastly, exercising regularly helps you focus better and have improved concentration18. This way it saves you energy when doing certain tasks. Lots of bonuses, right?

Reason 9: It's FUN!

Forget the boring 50 sit-ups, 50 push-ups, 50 squats for a workout. Exercising can be so much more fun. Whether it is doing bodyweight workouts with me or finding other activities (like dancing or walking or any sport) that keep you active, you should always make sure you’re having fun while treating your body with some good exercise. Commitment is key, if you’re committed to make this work and you regularly exercise, it will become a habit. This way you will reap the fruits even more as it will turn into long-term benefits.

Convinced yet?

We always say that exercise is good for you, but in this blog post I took a deeper look into the ‘good’ of exercising and physical activity in general. We learned that it has both physical and psychological benefits like lower risk of obesity, diabetes type 2 or cardiovascular disease and your mood, sleep and energy levels. One important rule is to make sure the activity or exercise you’re doing is FUN, so you can commit for the long term.

If you’re ready to look further into it, check out my service page to see what program fits you to start your health journey.

Know that this post is informational, but doesn’t replace professional medical advice or a personal consultation with me (book here).

Convincing a friend to start exercising with you? Please share this post with them.

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  1. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/
  2. Shiroma EJ, Cook NR, Manson JAE, Moorthy MV, Buring JE, Rimm EB, Lee I-M. Strength Training and the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 January ; 49(1): 40–46. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001063.
  3. Colberg S, Sigal R, Fernhall B, Regensteiner J, Blissmer B, Rubin R, Chasan-Taber L, Albright A, Braun B. Exercise and type 2 diabetes. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement. Diabetes care 2010; 33:e147 -e167
  4. Kirwan JP, Sacks J, ieuwoudt S. Cleve Clin J Med. 2017 July ; 84(7 Suppl 1): S15–S21. doi:10.3949/ccjm.84.s1.03.
  5. Physical activity and cancer. National Cancer Institute. Reviewed on February 10, 2020. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet
  6. Kokila G, Smitha T. Cancer and physical activity. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol 2017;21:4-7. 10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_20_17
  7. Benefits of exercise. MedlinePlus, trusted health information for you. https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html
  8. Kim BY, Choi D-H, Jung C-H, Kang S-K, Mok J-O, Kim C-H. Obesity and Physical Activity. Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome 2017;26:15-22. https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes.2017.26.1.15
  9. Obesity Prevention Source. Physical Activity. Harvard TH Chan. School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/physical-activity-and-obesity/
  10. Physical activity and cardiovascular disease. Physiopedia. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Physical_Activity_and_Cardiovascular_Disease
  11. Kubota Y, Evenson KR, MacLehose RF, Roetker NS, Joshy CE, Folsom AR. Physical activity and lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 August ; 49(8): 1599–1605. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001274.
  12. Physical activity and your mental health. Mind. 2019 March.
  13. Perry J. Five mental health benefits of exercise. Livescience. 2021, September 29. https://www.livescience.com/five-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise
  14. Robinson L, Segal J, Smith M. The mental health benefits of exercise. Helpguide. 2021 August. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm
  15. Pacheco D, reviewed by Wright H. Physical activity and sleep. How it improves sleep, additional health benefits, and why timing is crucial. Sleep foundation. Updated 2022, April 20. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-activity
  16. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Exercising for better sleep. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep
  17. Krauss Whitbourne S. 18 reasons to exercise. From neurons to hormones: why your body needs a workout. Psychology today. 2012, May 12. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201205/18-reasons-exercise
  18. Rodriguez D, Mackenzie S. Why exercise boosts mood and energy. Regular workouts can make a real difference in your energy level. Learn how to get the maximum benefits. Everyday Health. Reviewed 2019, May 1. https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/workouts/boost-your-energy-level-with-exercise.aspx


Learn more about your health and fitness through these blog posts. Knowledge can help you change your habits. Become the best you by investing in your health.

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