• WORDS Paul Godden – Membership Consultant

The Hidden Benefits of Regular Exercise


As a Membership Consultant with over three years of experience at Planet Fitness, I admire every person who walks through the door of the gym. Why? Because each person has made a commitment to themselves and has honoured that commitment by turning up. No excuses.

In my time, I’ve seen some amazing transformations in some members and not a lot in others. But it’s never been about the amazing transformations; it’s all about the hidden benefits that regular gym attendance brings with it for anybody and everybody.

Numerous research studies have shown that exercise does your body good almost instantly. The moment you jump on a treadmill, launch into your Spinn Class or start your Body Pump session, the benefits of exercise kick in. Your heart rate increases and blood is delivered to your muscles. You start burning calories for fuel. And you get an almost immediate mood boost.

From the minute you start to work out, your lungs are getting stronger. And thanks to a flood of endorphins, which trigger the classic runner's high, you feel psyched and energised.

Every sweat session you do elevates your level of immunoglobulins, which are proteins that help bolster your immune system and ward off infection.

Mood-enhancing chemicals, like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, flood your brain for a couple of hours post-exercise and for up to a day if you've competed in an endurance event, like a marathon.

After exercising, you're blasting calories, even at rest. For every 100 calories, you burn during your workout; you can expect to burn 15 calories afterwards. BUT, be warned, once you’ve burned through your energy stores, your blood sugar levels are dropping. So exercise needs to be balanced with healthy eating (most of the time) plus adequate rest periods.

And don't forget to drink plenty of water with your snack. Intense or long workouts can leave you dehydrated.

Post benefits of exercising are that within one day you're adding lean muscle. If you did a strength-training routine, your muscles are now starting to rebuild themselves and repair the microscopic tears that come with lifting weights.

Ladies, a little side note here, preliminary research shows that women respond to and recover from resistance training faster than men. So don’t be shy, start using the weights areas at the Planet Fitness gyms.

Other little known benefits are that your heart is healthier. One sweat session lowers your blood pressure for up to 16 hours. Also, you're super alert and focused post-exercise. That's because a good workout increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain.

Within one week of regular exercise, your risk of diabetes goes down. The more you work out, the greater your sensitivity to insulin. That, in turn, lowers your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes.

To increase your endurance and aerobic fitness, incorporate some interval training during your workouts. Doing something like four to seven 30-second sprints followed by four-minute periods of recovery has been shown to double your endurance within two weeks. Plus, you burn more belly fat by doing intervals rather than keeping a steady pace, other research shows.

And cutting down by just 500 calories a day through exercise and diet will help you drop up to half a kilo a week. After four weeks of regular workouts, your body is ditching flab and gaining muscle.

If you want to trim your tummy, researchers advise that you do fewer crunches and more planks. To do effective planks, rest your forearms on the floor and extend your legs straight behind you, balancing on your toes. Keeping your abs engaged and back flat, hold for 30 seconds; do ten reps three or four times a week.

Planet Fitness offers a 7 Day Free Trial to local residents. So don’t be shy, invest in yourself today.

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