Squats may be the new Prozac. Scientists at the University of Sydney found that regularly lifting weights significantly reduces symptoms of major depression. In fact, the researchers report that a meaningful improvement was seen in 60 percent of clinically diagnosed patients, similar to the response rate from antidepressants—but without the negative side effects.
17. You'll Be More Productive
Invest in dumbbells—it could help you land a raise. U.K. researchers found that workers were 15 percent more productive on the days they made time to exercise compared to days they skipped their workout. They were also 15 percent more tolerant of their co-workers. Now consider for a moment what these numbers mean to you: On days you exercise, you can—theoretically at least—accomplish in an eight-hour day what normally would take you nine hours and 12 minutes. Or you'd still work nine hours, but get more done, leaving you feeling less stressed and happier with your job, another perk that the workers reported on the days they exercised. Think a busy schedule is a good excuse not to lift? Think again.
18. You'll Add Years to Your Life
Get strong to live long. University of South Carolina researchers determined that total-body strength was linked to lower risks of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes. Similarly, University of Hawaii scientists found that being strong at middle age was associated with "exceptional survival"—defined as living until 85 years of age without developing a major disease.
19. You'll Stay Sharp
Never forget how important it is to pump iron. University of Virginia scientists discovered that when men and women lifted weights 3 times a week for 6 months, the study participants significantly decreased their blood levels of homoscysteine, a protein that's linked to the development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
20. You'll Even Be Smarter
Talk about a mind-muscle connection: Brazilian researchers found that 6 months of resistance training enhanced lifters' cognitive function. In fact, the workouts resulted in better short- and long-term memory, improved verbal reasoning, and a longer attention span.
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Learn more about The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises and where to buy the book.