6 Reasons to Workout (That Have Nothing to Do With Your Waistline)
By: Madeleine Woon
I have a very on-off relationship with exercise. Despite the many grandiose promises I have made to myself over the years—especially in the lead-up to holidays that require minimal clothing or those hopeful first few weeks of January—my sticking power has always been weaker than a vintage stick of STAPLES glue. I suspect it’s because weight loss and ripped abs are usually my motivating goals.
The only times I’ve ever successfully been able to stick to a regular workout routine is when I shift my focus from how it makes me look to how it makes me feel. (That is, ridiculously good). Of course the ripped abs are a nice byproduct, but placing the focus on things like a serene mind, glowing skin (like that produced by our PRESS REFRESH mask) and increased productivity actually makes me look forward to moving my body, rather than begrudgingly dragging my bag of flesh and bones off to the gym.
In the spirit of exercising for the body, mind and soul, rather than to attain a narrow beauty ideal, here’s a list of positive effects exercise has that will motivate you far more than any number on a scale could…
1. Exercise can literally add years to your life.
Moderate exercise—like those 25 minutes brisk walks around the park—can delay the process of aging, according to a recent study. Ah, the type of anti-aging I can truly get behind.
2. It’s good for your brain.
Physical exercise is also essential for maintaining adequate blood flow to the brain and may stimulate brain cell growth and survival. Your memory might be razor sharp now (if you’re me, not so much), but it’s only going to diminish with time. Our chances of developing dementia increase over time, and researchers say that regular exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, a.k.a the part of the brain that works on your verbal memory and learning. In the short term, aerobic exercise can also improve the performance of healthy adults on thinking tests.
3. And your mental health.
Exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster, decreasing symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Moving your body pumps up endorphin levels, that much-beloved ‘feel good’ chemical, and even just moderate exercise throughout the week can improve depression and anxiety, so much so that some doctors recommend trying out an exercise regimen for these conditions before turning to medication. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.
4. Your skin cells will thank you.
Exercise increases the heart rate and improves blood circulation, which can help to deliver oxygen and much-needed nutrients to the skin. This keeps the skin healthy by promoting collagen production and new skin cells. Sweating while you exercise can also help to clear out pores. (Just remember to wash off any potentially pore-clogging makeup or skincare prior to your sweat sesh). Also, if you’re taking your workout outdoors, it should go without saying to slap on some SPF.
5. As might your hormonal-related acne flare ups.
“Teenage acne or adult acne especially in women is linked to hormonal issues, and those hormonal issues are associated with androgen excess due to PCOS. This condition is also linked to something called insulin resistance,” says Mumbai-based celebrity dermatologist Dr Rashmi Shetty. When you exercise, you help the body regulate its insulin resistance as well as regulate the symptoms of PCOS—one of which is acne. If your acne is inflamed by sweat and spikes in stress, lower the intensity of your workout. Think light cardio or yoga.
It’s imperative that you make sure to hit the shower with a targeted body wash ASAP after working out, even if you aren’t covered in sweat after a low-impact workout. SILKSHAKE, anyone?
6. It improves posture (and flexibility).
Are you reading this slumped over your desk like a shrimp? (No judgement, this is literally footage of me writing this article). All those bound to an office/school chair for upwards of 40 hours per week, and otherwise glued to their phones, are best case going to feel stiff from time to time, and worst case going to develop bad habits that contribute to bad posture long-term. The good news is, it’s never too late to change your posture. Yoga and pilates are great for improving both posture and flexibility—and lucky for you, free on YouTube thanks to peeps like Yoga with Adriene and Lotti Murphy.
Looking to reduce stress for healthy skin? Look no further.