A recent study found that “people who start exercise programs to lose weight often see a decline in weight loss (or even a reversal) after a few months.” The reason for this, the researchers found, is that our bodies adapt to higher activity levels, so that people don’t necessarily burn extra calories, even if they exercise more. Other studies have found that exercise alongside calorie restriction achieves the same weight loss as calorie restriction alone.
This might be because exercise often increases appetite, so people generally end up consuming more calories than they burn. Eating more calories than you burn is a big no-no when it comes to weight loss.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up your Zumba class. Here are five reasons you should get up and move most days, even if it doesn’t make a dent on your scale:
Exercise makes you happy.
A 2016 study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that exercise replenishes neurotransmitters that are important in regulating emotional health. “Major depressive disorder is often characterized by depleted glutamate and GABA [neurotransmitters], which return to normal when mental health is restored,” said the study’s lead author. “Our study shows that exercise activates the metabolic pathway that replenishes these neurotransmitters.”
Exercise keeps your heart healthy.
And it reduces your risk of death! How’s that for a reason? A report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology said that even small amounts of exercise, including standing, “are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but more exercise leads to even greater reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease.”
Exercise keeps your brain sharp.
Exercise helps prevent mental deterioration as you age, and reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers from The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. Another study published in the medical journal “Neurology” earlier this year flat-out says that exercise contributes to keeping your brain younger than those who don’t exercise.
Exercise helps prevent lower back pain.
A review of studies found that exercise combined with education on how to prevent back pain, and even exercise alone, is associated with less frequent episodes of lower back pain.
Exercise gives you an energy boost.
Even though you expend energy when you work out, you get it back, says researchers out of the University of Georgia. They found “overwhelming evidence that regular exercise plays a significant role in increasing energy levels and reducing fatigue.”
So get out and exercise! Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, and even if it’s just standing at your desk or a walk around the block, the health benefits will help you for the rest of your life.