It’s a brand new year, and “exercise more” probably tops everyone’s list of resolutions. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that those resolutions usually last for about two weeks. So when the motivation fades and you’d rather hibernate for the rest of winter, remember these five reasons you should lace up your shoes and keep hitting the gym anyway.
1) You’ll live longer.
Research has proven time and again that being physically active can add years to your life—and, on the flip side, multiple studies have shown that sitting for hours on end every day is detrimental to health. Limit yourself to just a few hours on the chair and you can add as much as two years to your life. (Even better news: You don’t have to be a marathon runner to live longer; even jogging at a mild pace can help you live longer.)
2) You’ll improve your memory.
All that time spent at the computer won’t go to waste—as long as you continue to exercise, as well. A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that those who used a computer and exercised moderately were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairments later in life. The percentage of those who used a computer and exercised cut their chances of memory decline by 18.3 percent.
3) You’ll prevent type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 25.8 million US children and adults, making it the most common form of the disease. To help prevent type 2 diabetes (and give your muscles definition, to boot), incorporate strength training into your 2013 training regimen. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Denmark found that men who performed a mix of both weight training and aerobic exercises for at least 150 minutes a week reduced their risks of developing the disease by 59 percent.
4) You’ll be less stressed.
Whether you’re walking out of an intense indoor cycling session or feeling light as air after a yoga class, exercise will banish stress, thanks to the happy endorphins released into your body during a workout. In particular, a yoga practice that involves meditation and chanting causes inflammatory and stress levels to drop significantly.
5) You’ll lose weight.
As long as you maintain a healthy, clean diet and an exercise regimen, you’re bound to shed some pounds. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to go all out on every single workout. In fact, you’re more likely to injure yourself and fail on your New Year’s resolution if you hit the treadmill too hard those first two weeks. Instead, research shows that to lose weight, less exercise may be the key.