Weigh Loss Is Only One Good Reason to Exercise

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Here are five more good reasons to stay active

Losing weight and keeping it off is a great reason to exercise. Working out and weight loss also provide a good feedback loop to see how you're doing since the results will show up on the scale and in the fit of your clothes.

stay activeBut even if that scale isn't your friend these days or if you're doing fine with regard to maintaining a healthy and comfortable weight there are some very important reasons to exercise that go beyond the pounds and the inches. You'll find five of these non-weighty issues below:

1. Lower Risk for Cancer and Other Diseases
Being active plays a positive role in your metabolic and hormone levels as well as strengthens your overall immune system. So regardless of weight – although obesity carries its own risk factors – an ongoing exercise program is helping you fight disease.

2. Increased Independence as You Age
The good news about exercise is that regardless of your age it's never too late to start or continue working up a sweat. By adding strength and energy and improving balance and flexibility, exercise helps older adults continue to do the things that matter to them no matter where they choose to live.

3. Reduced Symptoms of Depression
A wide range of research studies have demonstrated the ability of exercise to reduce anxiety and depression in people with chronic illnesses as well as issues unrelated to their health. This same benefit applies to everyone who exercises. The overall feeling of wellbeing involves the ability of exercise to boost the "feel-good" chemicals in the brain like serotonin and norepinephrine.

4. Heart Healthy Benefits
Improving and maintaining fitness through exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease even if you're overweight. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, ongoing exercise actually protects you from some of the unhealthy effects of being overweight. And since (along with better eating habits) exercise can help with weight management, too, you get a double advantage.

5. A Longer and Healthier Life
Research documented in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that adults who get more physical activity live longer over a four-year period. And when you're following a consistent exercise program there's a good chance that those additional years will be healthier.

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