If you’re like most people, as we head into cooler weather and holiday festivities, your desire to eat bad-for-you food skyrockets and your motivation to exercise plummets. But don’t despair—you aren’t doomed to months of gorging and sloth. Battle against your self-destructive tendencies by reminding yourself of these compelling, science-backed reasons to get your sweat on.
- You’ll be richer. Or at least less poor. Research published last month in the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that adults who did at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise—brisk walking counts!—at least five days a week spent on average $500 to $2,500 less in medical expenses every year.
- You’ll be smarter. The cognitive benefits of exercise are well-documented—it increases blood flow to your brain, which can improve both memory and critical thinking skills…as long as you stay active. A small study published in August in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that for highly trained endurance athletes ages 50 or older, blood flow to the brain diminished after just 10 days of inactivity. (On the bright side, the participants still performed well in cognitive tests, so the jury is still out on how long of an exercise break you can take before your thinking skills take a hit.)
- You’ll be happier. Studies abound that indicate exercise can boost your mood, lower your risk of depression and reduce your symptoms if you are suffering from depression. Several studies even suggest that exercise is as effective as both counseling and anti-depressant meds in treating depression. Even better, simply believing that exercise will elevate your mood will give you an even bigger boost, according to research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine in August.
- You’ll be better looking. Do you really need a study to back this up?
So every time this season that you’re tempted to bag a workout or grab another cookie, punch up this blog and picture a wealthier, brainier, cheerier, beauti-fuller you. Then, step away from the cookie and get thee to the gym. You’ll be glad you did.
Kellee Katagi is one of those strange souls who actually enjoys working out for the sake of working out. But not to fear—she’s married to a man who doesn’t, so she appreciates that way of seeing the world, too. She’s spent most of her 20-plus-year writing and editing career covering fitness, nutrition and travel, as well as outdoor sports ranging from skiing to spelunking to street luge (yes, that’s a thing). Katagi lives with her husband and three sports-loving children.