Oh, wait. That’s supposed to come at the end. Nevertheless, this is a “for more information” kind of post because I’ve been writing for years about the various awesome-spectacular-amazeballs things exercise does for your body and your brain that have nothing to do with weight loss, and I figured it would be good to turn this into a repository of some of that knowledge for quick and easy reference.
But yeah, exercise IS good for weight loss, if used properly. I’ve written about that a ton. Burning calories is the least important thing that exercise does, but still, burning those calories does allow you to ingest more food and still be in a caloric deficit to lose weight without feeling like you’re starving. More importantly from the weight loss perspective is the way that exercise powers up your brain, both physiologically and psychologically, to make better eating decisions.
But beyond weight loss, there are a lot of great reasons to become a regular exerciser. This list is by no means exhaustive, because I have plenty more articles in the brain bank left to write, but I’ve created this as a “follow this link to learn more” piece based on what I have written about.
Let’s get started. All these links open in a new window, so feel free to go click happy and read at your leisure while the boss isn’t looking.
1. It pumps up your cognitive capabilities
As popular as killing brain cells with alcohol is, most people are enamored with the idea of having more brainpower. Speaking of which, if you have a brain, you hopefully know that “bulletproof” Dave Asprey’s “brain octane oil” that he likes to ruin sushi with is total bullshit.
But the effectiveness of exercise to prevent cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, brain lesions and just to make you smarter makes it a no-brainer. Read my Los Angeles Times column on this subject to learn more.
2. It can battle addiction
Exercise is a popular tool in addiction treatment facilities, and I personally know that the harder I exercise, the less beer I want. It’s an alternative reward that satiates that need for a fix with something healthy instead of something that is unhealthy. Read this Chicago Tribune column to learn more.
3. It accelerates cancer recovery
On the list of things that suck, cancer ranks high. And recovering from treatment is no picnic either. But did you know that getting exercise making that recovery easier and faster? Learn more here in this Chicago Tribune column.
4. It gets shit done
I had a big bike ride planned a while ago, but the weatherman was a damn liar. Instead of sunny and warm it was barf and bleh. So I stayed inside and worked my ass off. I burned just as many calories cleaning bathrooms and floors and carpets and had a very grateful wife as a result. Learn more about the power of non-exercise activity thermogenesis in this Chicago Tribune column.
5. It chills you out
Fight or flight used to be good for us, but since you can’t run away from your boss or punch him in the face, you need an alternative way to deal with the hormonal havoc that the stress of daily life deals out. Read this Los Angeles Times column of mine to learn more.
6. It makes you more creative
Half my book was written while in the saddle of my bike. There is real science to show that getting outside to exercise has a significant boosting effect on your creative capabilities. I write articles and books in my head, and singer Sarah McLachlan told me she writes song lyrics while going for trail runs. To learn more, read this Chicago Tribune column.
7. It can help battle depression
You’ve probably heard this one, but I looked deep at the latest research to find out how, why, and just how much it helps. Read this Chicago Tribune column to learn more.
8. It battles type 2 diabetes like nothing else
Regular exercise the BEST way to battle type 2 diabetes. Dietary changes are good, and medication is important too, but if anything is going to get you off that medication it’s going to be regular exercise. Read this Chicago Tribune column for more information.
9. It can alleviate pain
It seems like every human being currently not on an IV of morphine is experiencing pain. We all have our various owies, and exercise can make a big difference in lessening them, or even making them go away completely. Read more in this Chicago Tribune column.
10. It decreases end of life disability
Do you want to fall apart for a decade or more before you die, or be spry right up until the end? Forget that tubes in orifices and being kept alive with medical technology bullshit. Keep your body high functioning and die during sex in your 90s by being a regular exerciser. Read this Chicago Tribune column to learn more.
And for a bonus delaying disability item, read this Chicago Tribune column about how exercise makes your bones stronger.
And in conclusion, here is another bonus item from my Tribune column: Your dog will love you even more if you exercise with them.
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James S. Fell is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada. He also interviews celebrities about their fitness stories for the Los Angeles Times, and is head fitness columnist for AskMen.com and a regular contributor to Men’s Health.