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Hello, Motivation! 5 Instant Workout Benefits

Every year brings studies showing why exercise is great, but most of the benefits are far off in the misty future. Here are a few ways you’re an instant winner when you decide to break a sweat!

When it comes to managing a hectic schedule, daily to-dos that don't have tangible and immediate payoffs usually find themselves falling off your checklist. That includes exercise.

"The reality is that physical activity constantly competes with everything else we do," says Michelle L. Segar, Ph.D., associate director of the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center for Women and Girls at the University of Michigan. "For us to believe an activity is worth our time, it has to offer something very important to our daily life."

In a 2011 study, Segar and her colleagues reported that women who tracked instant results after a workout—like feeling happier, more energetic, and less anxious—exercised 34 percent more over the course of a year than those who focused on appearance or weight-loss goals.

It makes sense: Physical changes can take weeks and months, which can make working out feel like just another chore.

Instead, focus on these five instant benefits of exercise—they'll help reboot your workout motivation.

INSTANT REWARD 1 /// Boost Productivity and Brainpower

Cramming for a big meeting? Have a stack of paperwork to sort through? Skipping your workout to clock extra hours behind the desk may seem like a smart move, but a quick trip to the gym can actually be more beneficial. According to a study published in Clinical Neurophysiology, 20 minutes of moderate exercise immediately increases attention and cognitive ability.

"There's a shift in brain activity that enhances executive functioning, which plans, schedules, and coordinates thoughts and actions," says study author Charles H. Hillman, Ph.D., a professor in the department of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That amplified focus can last up to an hour, so schedule a quick workout during a time of day when you tend to be most distracted, or before a time when you'll really need to be on point.

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INSTANT REWARD 2 /// Make Healthy Connections

Having strong social ties can pay off in significant health benefits like lower blood pressure, fewer colds, and lower rates of mental illness, suicide, and alcoholism. You're most likely to create sustainable bonds with new people when you share a common interest, so don't keep to yourself at the gym. Sign up for a boot camp or cardio class and strike up convos with classmates.

Just the fact that you're into fitness will improve people's view of you: A recent study found that those who work out are perceived by others to be more friendly, outgoing, personable, kind, and even more attractive than those who don't.

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INSTANT REWARD 3 /// Get Glowing Skin

A pricey facial is one way to score a better complexion; a single sweat session is another.

"As your heart rate rises, the increase in blood flow circulates to the surface of your skin, giving you that revitalizing flush of color," says Mitra Ray, Ph.D., coauthor of Do You Have the Guts to Be Beautiful?

Turns out, sweating is good for your skin too: Some of the water evaporates to cool the body, and the rest is reabsorbed into the skin, giving it a nicely hydrated look post-workout.

INSTANT REWARD 4 /// Have Hotter Sex

Yes, exercising can make your sack sessions even sexier. A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who completed a 20-minute treadmill run before watching an erotic film clocked a 150 percent increase in genital arousal.

"Exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system, which helps blood enter the vaginal tissue more readily and creates more vaginal lubrication when in a sexual situation," says Cindy M. Meston, Ph.D., director of the Sexual Psychophysiology Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. To take advantage of this, you might want to exercise at home—Meston says the swell in arousal only lasts up to 30 minutes.

Read More: 4 Amazing Abs Exercises

INSTANT REWARD 5 /// Sleep Better

According to a 2011 study, those who engaged in moderately intense exercise for a total of 150 minutes a week—that's 30 minutes a day, five days a week—were able to fall asleep faster and felt less tired during daylight hours.

"Working out zaps stress and anxiety, plus it helps your body to regulate its own temperature, so you can hit the hay more peacefully," says study author Paul D. Loprinzi, Ph.D., an assistant professor of exercise science at Bellarmine University. And it doesn't matter what time of day you choose to fit in a sweat session, he says.

Only limited research suggests that late-night physical activity hurts the quality of your sleep.


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XxmetallicaxX

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XxmetallicaxX

who is the blonde, oh lala

Apr 30, 2013 9:23pm | report
fredzz1003

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fredzz1003

I like her to.hahaha

May 1, 2013 1:41am | report
rmcclanahan87

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rmcclanahan87

I was thinking the same thing lol

May 1, 2013 9:29am | report
CrazyMikeJr14

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CrazyMikeJr14

For real tho, who is she...

May 2, 2013 2:32pm | report
bigsoos

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bigsoos

I think the blonde is Samantha Leete.

May 14, 2013 1:19am | report
savalaserg

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savalaserg

lol hahaha

May 1, 2013 9:19am | report
dylanfan61

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dylanfan61

Increased productivity for only an hour? I guess I'll take what I can get.

May 1, 2013 10:55am | report
AJGoetz

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AJGoetz

Ahaha, who's to say you have to stop working out? Remain productive...

May 2, 2013 10:12am | report
dreambig1993

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dreambig1993

Number 4 is why I like girls who workout ;) haha

May 1, 2013 2:07pm | report
XxmetallicaxX

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XxmetallicaxX

Awww man they removed my other comment, it was the best

May 2, 2013 3:54am | report
AJGoetz

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AJGoetz

You know, I have noticed a few of these things to be quite true as well. Women stare longer, I feel way happier, I sleep better and I have fallen in love with sweating simply because I know that it is my fat crying. :D FEELS GREAT!

May 2, 2013 10:07am | report
Showing 1 - 11 of 11 Comments

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