When you feel like your are lacking the motivation to get to gym or go on that run, remind yourself there are many more significant health benefits to physical activity than you may think. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports only 20 percent of Americans are getting the recommended amount of exercise, which amounts to 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise and strength training at least 2 times per week.

Exercise isn’t just about looking and feeling good, here are some of the significant benefits you can see from sticking to a regular fitness routine.

Increased cognitive functioning, or more simply put, better brain health. Consistent exercise is also tied to improving memory and an decreased risk of both Alzheimer’s Disease and depression. Studies conducted on older adults (age 60 to 80) linked consistent activity (gardening, walking etc.) to increased oxygenation of the brain and brain wave patterns.

Happiness!! During exercise, neurons are releasing GABA neurotransmitters inducing a state of calm. Meanwhile, Anandamide (AEA) levels are increasing which link to BDNF proteins temporarily halting feelings of pain and sadness. Together with a plethora of powerful brain chemicals being released, this combination can lead to an increased state of calm and happiness both during and after exercise.

Stop the clock! Exercise is linked to slowing down the effects of aging and better skin. Through exercise, mitochondrial content can increase in cells and thus halt the decrease in mitochondrial mass in our cells that can occur with age. Exercise also floods the skin with a boost in oxygen and nutrients, helping to heal surface wounds faster and promote vibrant skin.

High intensity exercise can re-program your DNA. One study found that after a high intensity workout, the body rapidly began reprograming itself to boost the production of fat burning proteins. These means that exercise causes alterations to your DNA and can shift the body to target fat cells for fuel.

Lastly, exercise has been linked to a faster recovery from many chronic illnesses and is being prescribed by some medical professionals in lieu of prescription drugs. These include cancer, stroke recovery, osteoarthritis, depression and anxiety.

Consistent exercise can have lasting effects on not only our physical body, but also our emotional and mental health. Working out not only makes you feel good, but can also contribute to better aging patterns and an overall benefit to well-being far into the future.