Should I exercise for weight loss or better health?

While many Americans look to exercise as a potential way to shed some extra pounds, the real truth is that diet is the key to weight loss. Think of exercise as a powerful health promotion tool. It’s a great thing to do for your health, but it isn’t the cornerstone of weight loss. Regular exercise produces overall better health and wellbeing.

The Surgeon General recommends all adults aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days, with a preference toward every day. Children require at least 60 minutes.

This means that even as a busy professional or a parent with a tight schedule, you should incorporate exercise into your daily routine. And if you can make it a family affair, this actually increases your chances of success.

Fight illness and disease

Routine exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle helps fight illness and disease. It increases your immune system’s resistance to things like the common cold and other contagious illnesses when combined with healthy eating habits.

Multiple diseases can be stopped before they even get started (like heart disease or type 2 diabetes) while others can be lessened with proper exercise. Examples include arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Better mood

Exercise releases endorphins, which make us feel good. When we feel good, we are naturally happier and have a more positive outlook.

The release of endorphins is so powerful, in fact, that it can help combat depression and anxiety. While exercise isn’t a cure for these mood disorders, it is a powerful (and healthy) coping mechanism.

High daily energy levels

Since exercise gets your blood pumping faster, it can increase your energy level. As blood moves through your body, it delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to your organs. With time, this can decrease that afternoon grogginess or your need for a daily nap after work.

More restful sleep

Exercise gives you an initial boost of energy but as long as you take your daily jog or play a sport at least an hour before bedtime, it can also help you sleep. By using up your energy stores and clearing your head, a vigorous workout can help combat insomnia.

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder we hear so much about exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. So, think of exercise as a way to improve your health; think of diet as the way to lose weight.