Do I need to exercise if I’m already skinny?
The short answer… Yes!
Exercise and physical activity are important no matter your body type, and offers so many benefits beyond weight loss.
Exercise boosts mental health, strengthens your heart and lungs, gives you more energy throughout the day, and manages and prevents a number of chronic diseases and health conditions, which can even save you money on life insurance.
But that’s not all!
Here’s a list of reasons you should be active even if you are skinny, underweight, or already at your ideal body weight.
1. Exercise Strengthens Your Heart
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a silent killer because it has no symptoms, and over 100 million Americans have high cholesterol. Do you still need more reasons why heart health is important?
Any type of physical activity strengthens your heart so that it does not have to work as hard to pump blood through the body.
Cardiorespiratory endurance activities like swimming, biking, walking, and jogging are vital for improving heart health.
Even if you’re skinny or already happy with your body weight, improving your heart health is a good idea in the long run.
2. Exercise Prevents Diabetes
Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.
It affects almost 10% of the population and costs the United States over $300 billion dollars a year. Over one million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year.
The two best ways to prevent diabetes are regular exercise and weight management.
Any type of physical activity helps prevent diabetes and can also help with weight management.
In other words, you may be skinny now, but it gets harder and harder to keep your body trim (and your diabetes risk down) as you get older.
Start building healthier habits today to plan for the future.
3. Exercise Strengthens Your Bones
All weight-bearing activities like strength training, walking, and jogging are great activities for keeping your bones strong.
Your bone-building years are the teenage years and your 20’s.
Between your 30’s and 50’s, the goal should be to maintain the bone mass you have.
Around middle age, we start losing bone mass. So weight-bearing activities are especially important during this time in our lives to maintain the bone mass we have.
Low bone mass puts us at higher risk for falls, fractures, and osteoporosis.
4. Exercise Improves Muscle Strength and Helps You Look Toned
Skinny comes in lots of different varieties.
Some skinny or underweight people look like they’re wasting away due to a lack of muscle mass. Others look athletic and chiseled.
(Pro tip: You’d probably prefer the latter!)
Strength training helps improve your overall strength and makes your body look more toned.
Heavier objects are easier to lift when you have strong muscles. Even if you are thin or at your ideal body weight, muscle mass will give you a better physique and appearance.
(Related: Do you need to exercise if you have a physical job?)
5. Exercise Improves Mental Health
Exercise is great for physical health, but it also has mental health benefits too.
Regular exercise can prevent and help treat depression and anxiety.
It can also help manage other mental health conditions as well.
Even one exercise session can help with short-term feelings of anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, giving you a relaxed feeling and mood boost.
People get this wrong all the time. You don’t necessarily work out because you feel great; you feel great because you workout!
6. Exercise Is a Great Stress Management Tool
Do you ever feel stressed? We all do.
Think about how much better you feel if you go for a walk or jog or lift weights after a stressful day.
Exercise is shown to reduce levels of stress hormones.
A workout is often the last thing you want to do when stressed, anxious, or tired, but it’s one of the most effective things you could possibly force yourself to do.
7. Exercise Helps You Sleep Better
Ever notice how well you sleep after a challenging workout?
Sleep can be improved even after just one exercise session.
Regular or habitual exercise is even more beneficial because it helps individuals fall asleep faster and stay in the deeper stages of sleep for longer.
If there’s one area where most adults struggle with their health, it’s sleep. Very few of us sleep as much or as well as we should.
Working out, even if you’re skinny and not worried about weight loss, will help —you’ll feel like a completely different person!
8. Exercise Lowers Your Risk of Certain Types of Cancer
Forget losing weight or looking ripped for a second… did you know that exercise could literally save your life?
There is research to show that exercise and physical activity can lower your risk of breast, lung, and colon cancer.
Those three types of cancer are some of the most common types in the United States.
All it takes is a few brisk walks per week.
The American Cancer Society recommends just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75 minutes of intense activity.
9. Exercise Improves Brain Health and Cognition
You ever feel a little foggy and out of it after sitting around all day? Try getting a workout in and then see how you feel.
Exercise is great for brain health!
Research shows that exercise improves cognition for all ages.
One exercise session and habitual exercise can improve cognition for children and adults.
Habitual and regular exercise also reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
10. Exercise Improves Your Overall Quality of Life
Do you still need more reasons why exercise is so important?
How about this last one — when you exercise, you just feel better!
When you are physically active on a regular basis, your overall quality of life is clearly improved.
You may find yourself climbing stairs easier. Getting in and out of your car might be less taxing. Carrying in your groceries, and even stretching up to reach something high may become easier.
Your physical fitness plays a huge role in your energy levels and general enjoyment of day to day activities.
Just because you’re skinny or even underweight doesn’t mean you don’t have work to do!
The benefits of exercise extend much further beyond just having goals for weight loss and weight management.
If someone could take all the benefits of exercise and bottle them up in a pill that you could just swallow, people would jump at the chance to get their hands on this pill.
Whether you work out at home, a gym, or outdoors, try to move more and sit less to garner all these awesome benefits of exercise.
If you have trouble finding time to exercise during the day, try to sneak in a quick workout at work.
However and whenever you move, move more and sit less.
Melissa Morris is a writer for the life insurance site, QuickQuote.com, and teaches nutrition and applied kinesiology at the University of Tampa. She has an EdD in educational leadership and MS in exercise science. Melissa is also an ACSM certified exercise physiologist and an ISSN certified sports nutritionist.