Every person that I train has their own idea of what they want to achieve and what their long term goals are. Whether it’s to improve running fitness, increase strength or improve general health we all have our own motivations for training but there are so many benefits you can experience through exercise that some of you may not be aware of. Here is my top 10: 1. Weight loss (more accurately fat burning). Exercise elevates your metabolism. The increased energy demand during exercise means your body can burn off up to twenty times more calories than when it is at rest. Not only that but the interval and resistance training can leave metabolism elevated for up to 72 hours after training. That means that if you train 3-4 sessions a week you can benefit from an elevated metabolism for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. 2. Improved psychological health. Exercise benefits every part of the body, including the mind. When exercising the body produces endorphins, these are chemicals that can help a person to feel more peaceful and happy. Many people that suffer with depression are referred to fitness professionals by their GPs. I ran a GP referral scheme at a council run sports centre many years ago and the patients would regularly claim how great they felt after they began their training programme, despite having a few sore muscles the following day. 3. Increase bone density and reduced risk of osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercise, particularly resistance training has been proven to increase the strength of bones which can help those effected by osteoporosis and protect against fractures. 4. Reduced risk of disease. Exercise can decrease a person’s risk of developing certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Prevention is the best cure! 5. Increased confidence. This is just one of the side effects experienced very soon after commencing a healthy lifestyle regime. Making that dress size, discovering new muscle tone, improvement in sports performance, improved sleep and improvement in medical ailments such as back pain all individually can lead to a surge in confidence which increases your adherence to your programme and enjoyment of life. 6. Improve quality of life . Exercise boosts your energy levels. Physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. In fact, regular physical activity helps your entire cardiovascular system. The circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels, works more efficiently. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you’ll have more energy to do the things you enjoy. 7. Improved sleep. Exercise promotes better sleep. A good night’s sleep can improve your concentration, productivity and mood. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Exercising in the day will actually help you relax in the evening as your body will want to rest from the exercise. This is good because it can then recover and repair stronger for the next time you exercise. Also, knowing that you have exercised that day will leave you feeling more content that your day has been productive, instead of lying in bed feeling guilty and thinking you should have been more active than you were. 8. Fireworks back in the bedroom. Often people can feel too tired to have sex with their partner or feel too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy. Following a structured weekly exercise regime can leave you feeling energized and looking great, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. Believe it or not but there have been studies done on this. No, I wasn’t a subject! Results of which found that regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women, and men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise. I have not enquired as to whether this is the case for any of my clients but if it is, there is no need to thank me! Just keep it up – so to speak! 9. Enjoyment and improved social life. Physical activity doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be fun and involve the whole family and friends too. Whether its rounder’s in the park, dance classes, climbing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and surfing these are all very fun activities and would be enjoyed by most even if they didn’t bring such fantastic health benefits. Exercise classes are incredibly social and many good friendships have been formed from participating. 10. Stress release. If I’m ever feeling like the challenges of life are getting on top of me or perhaps Im feeling a little grumpy then often I will go for a run or go a few rounds on my punch bag. I ALWAYS feel better for it. Try it next time your being a grouch and see if it lifts your mood. There you go, that’s my top 10. As you can see exercise will benefit just about everyone so if your writing some goals down for the new year, make sure an exercise goal is in there somewhere.