Most of us embark on a weight loss journey to fit into a smaller pair of jeans, at the urging of a doctor, or because of some “ah ha!” moment that inspires us to get fit. Those are all great reasons to get started and make some major life changes, but sometimes motivation fades after the initial weight comes off and the diet grows boring. So, here’s 14 reasons to lose weight and get fit that will keep you motivated long after your interest in dress sizes or ‘zoodles’ fades!
To Sharpen Your Mind
Research shows that regular exercise improves brain function. It helps you think faster, learn more easily, remember more and solve problems more easily. Why? Aerobic exercise promotes neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons) and strengthens existing connections to make cognition more productive all day. This constant creation of new brain cells also proves protective against neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
If that’s not enough, a 2011 study also showed that losing weight can improve brain function, independent of exercise habits. More specifically, it may increase learning ability and memory retention. Participants who lost 50 pounds or more showed improved leaning and memory scores as compared to those who did not lose any weight. With those statistics, brain health is one of our favorite reasons to lose weight!
To Feel Happier
Did you know that obesity is associated with a significantly increased risk of depression and other mental illnesses? People with obesity have a 30% higher risk of mental health issues as compared to their normal-weight counterparts. It’s suggested that hormonal changes in obesity may trigger mental illness in people with a genetic predisposition. Researchers also predict that discrimination, low self-esteem, lack of physical activity and poor sleep may contribute to this discrepancy. It makes sense, then, that another study found that people with depression felt better after losing 8% of their starting body weight.
Want a faster boost to your mood? Add in some daily aerobic activity! The same chemical that promotes neurogenesis and makes you smarter also makes you happier. Cardio promotes the release of endorphins – chemicals that make us happy and reduce pain. So, more cardio means more endorphins, which means more euphoria! Exercise also reduces cortisol levels to help us de-stress and minimize fat storage. Breaking a sweat, then, is an awesome and natural way to lift your mood and unwind!
To Protect Your Heart
Losing just 5% of your body weight can have a big impact on your risk of heart disease. For a 200-pound person, a 5% loss is just 10 pounds. With this, you can expect lots of benefits including lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and lower blood glucose. More specifically, that relatively minor loss makes a big different by decreasing triglycerides and LDL and increasing HDL – the good cholesterol. These healthy changes all help slash your risk of cardiovascular disease. Couple those improvements in test results with regular exercise and a healthy diet to make your risk drop even farther.
Even if you’re not losing weight, getting fit is great for your heart! Your heart is the body’s most important muscle and, just like any other muscle, it’s stronger when you work it. So, get moving each day and give your heart some TLC!
Still: if you haven’t been exercising for a while, or you have any medical conditions, make sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
To Boost Your Energy
Looking for a quick energy boost? Weight loss and regular exercise are your new best friends!
People who have lost significant weight and kept it off report increased energy levels as one of the main benefits of their new, slimmer figure. Why? For one, you’re no longer carrying around all of that extra weight so daily activities get much easier. Also, a healthier lifestyle – eating right, moving more and sleeping enough – contributes to the major bump in energy.
Exercise is a also great source of added energy, with or without weight loss! We’ve all skipped a workout because we were too tired, but going to the gym is actually one of the best cures for this drowsiness. Research shows that regular physical activity is highly-effective in boosting energy levels over time. So, while one workout may feel exhausting, consistent sweat sessions can actually boost energy levels!
To Breathe Easier
Shedding those extra pounds makes breathing easier, which means less huffing and puffing for you. This is because weight loss improves oxygen efficiency. When your muscles and tissues can get and use the oxygen they need more easily, your lungs don’t have to work so hard. So, after losing a few pounds you should start noticing yourself panting less and less. Being overweight also increases the risk of sleep apnea and makes asthma relief medications less effective. Your lung health is an often-unacknowledged, but highly-important, reason to lose weight.
To Reduce Cravings
Studies show that hard exercise reduces cravings, especially in the hours just after finishing your workout. This means workouts like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), boot camp or a hard run could help you eat less! If you’re more into moderate exercises like biking, dancing or walking – don’t worry. Researchers found that doing any exercise for 30 minutes reduced participants’ appetite for up to 24 hours.
Better yet, science shows that walking briskly for 15 minutes makes junk food less tempting. This change was determined by measuring participants’ emotional response to a sweet snack after either sitting still or walking on a treadmill. If your goal is weight loss, better control of cravings may be one of the best reasons to exercise regularly!
To Improve Your Sex Life
Body weight intimately affects both interest in sex and sexual pleasure. In fact, up to 30% of obese people interested in weight loss note problems with sex drive, performance or desire. It’s hard to get in the mood if you’re struggling with body confidence, and the media only makes this worse by reinforcing messages about what is or isn’t “sexy”. More than that, levels of sex hormones are markedly affected by excess body fat in both men and women. Lower levels of testosterone, for example, can result in both reduced interest in sex and decreased ability to perform. The good part is that losing as little as 10 pounds can make a big difference in correcting these issues! Research also shows that hitting the gym prove helpful by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region. So, whether you’re looking for reasons to lose weight or reasons to exercise: your sex life may be the motivation you need.
To Boost Immunity
Tired of coming down with a nasty cold every few weeks? Helping out your immune system is a great reason to lose weight and get moving! Research shows that moderate exercise can strengthen the immune system. This means fewer and less severe respiratory infections, and fewer days sick. Carrying around extra body fat also stresses the immune system by stimulating a chronic inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation increases your risk for lifestyle diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but may also lower your defenses against viruses like the common cold. Thankfully, even modest weight loss can dramatically improve immune system function! So fending off bothersome bugs is another important reason to lose weight.
However, there’s a caveat with this one: going to extremes with either weight loss or exercise can actually weaken your immune system. Make sure to approach your diet and workouts in healthy moderation to avoid doing more harm than good!
To Sweat Less
Nobody likes being sweaty and sticky. Thankfully, losing weight can help you sweat less! Sweating is your body’s natural cooling system that cools in when core temperature rises above normal. In most of us, this happens on hot days, during exercise or when we’re working on some some especially demanding chore. If you’re carrying around some extra weight, it’s likely you sweat more than your slimmer friends. This is because body fat acts as insulation to keep your core temperature high. As sweat works to cool you down, fat acts as a barrier to keep the heat in. So, an overweight person tends to sweat in an effort to bring core temperature down when compared to someone without so much insulation. That makes sweating another big reason to lose weight!
To Save Money
Lots of people complain that getting healthy is too expensive, but recent analysis shows that your wallet is actually one of the best reasons to lose weight! A 2017 study analyzed the added lifetime costs of being overweight or obese in America. They looked at direct medical costs, productivity losses and total societal costs for patients at age 20 and at age 50. Researchers concluded that overweight and obese people experienced significantly higher costs and productivity losses than normal weight people at both ages. Obese patients carried a heavier financial burden than overweight ones, and older people had more expenses than their younger counterparts. And these amounts weren’t insignificant. According to the analysis, a typical, obese 20-year-old could save a little over $30,000 in direct and indirect lifetime expenses by getting down to a healthy weight. So, if looks or health aren’t getting you motivated, budget is a great reason to lose weight!
To Get Clearer Skin
Regular exercise helps fight breakouts. When you get your blood pumping with exercise, it circulates nutrients to nourish and revitalize your skin. While this much-needed oxygen keeps skin looking fresh, increased circulation carries away waste products to clean your skin from the inside out. Still, make sure to rinse off after you stop sweating so that dirt doesn’t stick to your skin and clog your pores
The relaxing effects of aerobic exercise can also help prevent stress-triggered breakouts.
To Sleep Better
Yearning to catch some quality ZZZs? Here’s your new favorite reason to lose weight:
Studies show that losing weight can improve sleep quality. This includes reducing the occurrence of common complaints like sleep apnea, daytime sleepiness, insomnia, restlessness and frequent waking. While overall weight loss helped, it was a reduction in belly fat that made the biggest difference. Doctors guessed that the decrease in sleep apnea, which causes frequent waking, may be to thank for this overall boost. However, weight loss-related improvements in blood sugar control or other unsettling conditions.
Sleep is also a key reason to exercise. Aim for the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of intense physical activity to get the biggest benefit. However, experts say that even 10 minutes of at-home aerobic activity can help you sleep better! These benefits occur because exercise tires you out, relaxes you and helps reinforce your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
To Protect Your Joints
Did you know that losing just one pound reduces pressure on your knees by a whole four pounds? Plus, one study showed that losing eleven pounds decreases a woman’s risk of osteoarthritis by 50%. If you struggle with joint pain, potential relief is one of the most rewarding reasons to lose weight! Dropping pounds also proves beneficial from a more systemic perspective. Excess fat storage triggers a pro-inflammatory response in our bodies. This response can cause everything from GI upset to joint pain. So reducing overall, systemic inflammation through weight loss may help reduce joint pain.
To Cut Cancer Risk
Last, but certainly not least, reducing your risk of cancer is one of the most serious reasons to lose weight. According to the American Cancer Society, it’s estimated that being overweight or obese is responsible for about 8% of annual cancer cases in the US. Excess body weight increases an individual’s risk for breast, colon, rectal, endometrial (uterine), esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancer. It may also raise the risk for other cancers. Similar to the sleep studies discussed above, excess belly fat proves especially worrisome in terms of cancer risk. Thankfully, losing weight can reduce your risk, as can the physical changes that occur with significant weight loss.
Do any of these facts motivate you to lose, or keep losing weight? Do you have another reason to lose weight? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!