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You’ve heard that exercise can be a big help when trying to manage or lose weight. However, the benefits of regular exercise go far beyond shedding a few pounds. Here are some of the ways that an exercise routine can improve your physical health, your mood, and your overall well-being.

Exercise: Weight Loss is Only the Beginning

When you hop on a bicycle or get started in a Pilates class, you are doing much more than burning extra calories. With each step, spin, or stretch you are also strengthening your lungs and heart (and thus improving your cardiovascular system’s ability to deliver oxygen to your body), lowering your blood pressure, and helping to create a better balance between “good” and “bad” cholesterol. Over time, these benefits can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke and reduce high blood pressure. Regular exercise also makes your body more sensitive to insulin, which lowers your blood sugar levels and risk of diabetes.

Your brain, too, benefits from regular exercise. In fact, physical activity actually stimulates it to produce mood-boosting chemicals that leave you feeling happy and relaxed. This makes exercise a safe and potent remedy against stress. As you lose weight and build muscle, you will also start to feel better about your appearance, which leads to higher level of confidence and improved self-esteem, both of which are significant mood-boosters. Finally, many types of exercise are easy to engage in with a friend, helping you build connections that can further improve your mood.

The benefits of exercise extend far beyond the time you spend at the gym. Regular physical activity helps to reduce your appetite, increase your level of energy, and make it easier to fall asleep. Even as little as thirty minutes of activity a day, five times a week, can dramatically improve your well-being.

How to Get Started

If you have never engaged in regular exercise before, getting started can feel a little intimidating. Even if you’ve put in years on the treadmill, it is a good idea to reassess your habits on a regular basis. A chiropractor can help in either situation.

Musculoskeletal pain and restricted mobility—particularly in the back, neck, hips and other joints—keeps many people from taking advantage of everything exercise has to offer. Chiropractic care can help to relieve chronic pain and restore function. Your chiropractor will also spend time getting to know your current lifestyle, enabling him or her to make exercise recommendations that will best address issues you are currently facing.

When choosing a type of activity to engage in, take some time to consider your own interests. If running doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry: try swimming, or join a spinning or dance class. Bring a friend with you and you’ll both reap the benefits.

Whether you’re interested in losing weight, improving your health, enjoying a higher level of well-being, or all three, exercise can help you achieve your goals.

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