Cardio is great. In fact, exercising not only helps you control your weight, but it can also reduce your chances of getting sick, improve your skin, and boost your cash flow. But, working on building your muscle tone has some pretty surprising health benefits, too.
1. BOOST YOUR MEMORY.
Lifting for just 20 minutes may improve memory by 10%, found a new study from Georgia Tech. Researchers think temporarily stressing muscles using bags, dumbbells, machines, or your own body weight releases hormones that benefit memory.
So strength training right after trying to memorize something could make you more likely to retain that info.
2. SLEEP BETTER.
A new study from Appalachian State University concluded that the best time to do cardio is in the morning, and the best time to do a little bit of weight training is in the afternoon or early evening.
Researchers determined that resistance training warms your body up, which primes you for a night of sound sleep. And, a combo of both cardio and strength training can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer throughout the night. Sign us up!
3. SPEED UP YOUR METABOLISM.
Contrary to popular belief, when you exercise you aren't actually replacing fat with muscle mass. Yes, as you lift weights and exercise more often, you will gain more muscle, but it isn't taking the place of your fat. (In fact, you breathe your fat out.)
An easy trick to lose even more fat is to change your metabolic rate, and the only way to do that is to build more muscle mass, says our nutrition director Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN.
4. FEEL HAPPIER.
If you're in a better mood after a hard workout, you're not alone: Exercising releases endorphins throughout your body, and puts you in a happier state of mind.
Research suggests that resistance training might also help you feel less anxious and fight depression symptoms.
5. PROTECT AGAINST HEART DISEASE.
Having a reduced muscle mass on top of aging and decreased physical activity can put you at a higher risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. Doing just a little bit of resistance training improves your bone health and in turn can lower your risk for cardiovascular diseases, which is why the American Heart Association lists strength training as one way to reduce the risk of heart disease.