The physical benefits of exercise are well-established. Exercise helps regulate weight, improves sleep, and lowers risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. What you may not know is that exercise is also tremendously beneficial to your mental health. Countless studies show that regular exercise combats anxiety, depression, and day-to-day stress. Now, growing evidence is emerging that fitness routines make you smarter, too.

“We know exercise is good for us, but one of the biggest appeals for high performers is the way it boosts our cognitive function,” Forbes writes. “The workout routines of presidents like Bush and Obama and CEOs like Ariana Huffington and Jeff Bezos are frequently covered by the media. Exercise literally makes us smarter.” How is that possible?

The exact mechanism was not well-understood. That is, until recently. Now scientists are able to pin down a spike in dopamine as the probable cause of this cognitive boost. During exercise, our brains release dopamine, stimulating its reward center. While that improves mood and makes us feel good, it also increases our neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to reshape itself, establish new connections, and make room for new memories and intellectual growth.

If you want to maximize your intellectual potential, you can do it without leaving the house. Having a gym at home makes it easy to fit in quick workouts and stick to healthy exercise habits. Here are some of the best perks of having your own setup at home.

1. Privacy

Having a gym at home gives you privacy. Although there are over 40,000 gyms across the nation, not everyone feels comfortable working out in them. In fact, feeling like you are on display can put a serious damper on your motivation to go to the gym. When you work out at home, your privacy is near-guaranteed. To be certain that your work out is for you and you alone:

  • Invest in quality residential fencing. Nationwide, people are spending more time outdoors, especially in their own backyards. Make your backyard a truly relaxing place to be by investing in a sturdy privacy fence. A privacy fence will make it more difficult to see into your windows, and it will afford you the option of working out outdoors if you want to.
  • Cover up your windows. Use drapes, blinds, or curtains to cover up windows and prevent nosy neighbors from peering in. If you have windows with unusual dimensions, you can purchase custom window coverings to fit your precise window or windows. For rooms where you prefer to cover up windows while allowing some light in, look into light-filtering curtains or blinds, or purchase decorative window film.
  • Have fun and enjoy it! Perhaps the best thing about having a gym at home and your new-found privacy is doing exactly what you like — whatever that may be. For example, German native Erika Rischko is making quite the name for herself on the video-sharing social media application TikTok. Rischko, whom many refer to affectionately as “Fitness Gran,” “has uploaded over 100 videos of herself doing exercises and dancing to encourage others to remain active,” FOX 8 reports. One of her most popular videos features the senior sashaying along to the Cha Cha Slide.

    Whether making fitness fun constitutes dancing along to Rischko’s videos, kickboxing, or doing yoga, the extra privacy can help you build up the confidence to do it.

2. Cleanliness

Right now, the cleanliness of your workout space is especially important. Unfortunately, in a public space, you can never be 100% certain how sanitary it truly is. While fitness centers and gyms may say they are taking every possible measure to keep things clean and follow through, other well-meaning patrons may forget to wipe down exercise equipment or might be asymptomatic but capable of spreading disease. Having a gym at home eliminates these worries.

While having a gym at home will eliminate the spread of germs among you and the general public, it is still wise — and necessary — for you to sanitize the surfaces and equipment that make up your home gym.

To keep your space clean, wipe down floors, mats, equipment, and surfaces after using them. When in doubt, it is best to use disinfectant wipes or sprays specifically for this purpose. Homemade, do-it-yourself (DIY) cleaners may break down or damage certain materials. If possible, increase the ventilation in your home gym. Make liberal use of ceiling fans or standalone fans to circulate the air and prevent foul odors from taking over the room. Use an air purifier to clean the air around you, or place an open box of baking soda or a charcoal deodorizing bag in the immediate area to neutralize smells.

Don’t forget to clean your gym area just like you would clean any other room in your home. If you are vacuuming, dusting, or sweeping, don’t skip your at-home gym. Regular dusting and vacuuming keep the air fresh and your space cleaner.

After installing a new at-home gym and before using it for the first time, it may be wise to enlist the help of a professional cleaning service — especially if you made major renovations. Major renovations can kick up dust, drywall, or other loose materials. Depending on the extent of your renovations, you may have had teams of contractors regularly in and out of the room. Following that up with a deep, professional cleaning is a smart move.

3. Your Own Set-Up Tailored to Your Needs and Comfort

When you go to the gym or fitness center, you are forced to work with what is already there. Having a gym at home chances that. By building your own gym, you can dictate its exact setup, what equipment you truly need, and what you need to do be most comfortable.

Ask yourself, “What does your typical workout look like?” If you are passionate about yoga and light, bodyweight activities, a setup with most flooring types and thin, portable mats will do just fine. If you are investing in heavy weights, like barbells, and/or heavy equipment, like a barbell rack and weight bench, reinforce the floor with a strong, durable material. Rubbing flooring holds up well. You can also purchase interlocking foam tiles that are slightly less expensive and lined with rubber to withstand more weight.

When it comes to your comfort, take a close look at the surrounding area or room and decide whether a consultation with a house building company is in your near future. If you are building a gym in a guest room and the room is a little too stuffy for your liking, you may need to simply contact local heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) services about air conditioning repair. If your gym will be in your unfinished garage, you may end up talking to contractors about properly insulating and weatherproofing the room and then installing the connections and ductwork for an HVAC system.

4. Decorate Your Way

Having a gym at home gives you the opportunity to decorate it the way you want it.

The decor in public gyms often leave something to be desired. The atmosphere may be entirely utilitarian. The floor may be concrete and covered with plain, black rubber. The walls may be white and bare. Even if the decor is a little more lively, your surroundings may be designed around the gym or institution’s logo instead.

When you decorate your own gym, you can make it entirely your own. Paint your gym red, yellow, or your favorite color. Red draws attention and promotes high-energy expenditures, while yellow is a bright, cheerful color that can help you get in the right mindset to burn off some calories.

Invest in simple wall decals baring short, inspirational messages or hang whimsical artwork from the walls that keep you and engaged and interested while you work out.

5. More Control Over Your Wellness Habits

Now more than ever, having a gym at home gives you greater control over your healthy habits. A little over year ago, it was just about impossible to seek out routine dental care. Dentists closed their doors in March, and it was months before they slowly began to open them back up again. The same held true for other public spaces, like fitness centers and gyms. For some time, routine gym goers did not have the option to go to the gym even if they wanted to.

A home gym affords you the luxury of doing what you want, when you want, no matter what the circumstances may be. You have full access to your gym at home right now. You do not have to wait for coronavirus restrictions to ease up to take full advantage of your treadmill at home or to do laps in your pool. In many areas, fitness centers are limiting the number of people using equipment at any given time (e.g., opening up every other treadmill) or limiting public pools to part or half capacity.

Others may simply be more comfortable working out at home for now and for the foreseeable future. Just like many households learned the value of home cooking and American made cast iron skillets in the past year, they also learned the value and convenience of working out without leaving home.

6. You Can Fit Workouts Into Your Schedule Easier

Some things are time-consuming no matter what you do. If you have a questionable claim that you need to discuss with your medical insurance, that is likely to be a lengthy process no matter how you approach it. Workouts are very different. If you are resourceful, you can tailor your workouts to fit your schedule and meet your fitness goals in surprisingly short blocks of time.

Having a gym at home makes it radically more possible to squeeze working out into a tight schedule. First, it saves you the time and hassle of commuting. You never have to wait in traffic to work out from home. Similarly, it gives you greater freedom to be more flexible with your workouts. Chances are, you would go to a fitness center once per day — especially if that fitness center isn’t particularly close to you. That means you must set aside the time to complete your entire workout when you go to the gym.

Having a gym at home changes that. When you have a gym at home, you can break up your fitness routine into two 10- or 15-minute workouts if that works best for you and your schedule. Finding large chunks of time to devote to your fitness routine is entirely unnecessary. Instead, you can do whatever makes the most sense for you.

Finally, if you are at home, you are more likely to eat healthier, too. You are significantly less likely to reward yourself with Mexican cuisine because it is on your way home.

7. You Don’t Have to Travel to the Gym In Bad Weather Conditions

Working up the motivation to go to the gym when it is raining or snowing outside is an extra challenge. Do not make it any harder on yourself than it needs to be.

Having a gym at home makes it possible to work out in any weather — and to do it without braving slick roads or trudging through the mud.

8. No Need For a Babysitter or Pet Sitter

While some gyms and fitness centers offer child care services, not all of them do. This forces parents to choose gyms based on their child care needs, not based on which gyms have the best equipment or weekly classes. Plus, gyms offering pet care are extraordinarily rare. There are a few branches beginning to offer an area for dogs to play under supervision while their owners work out. However, these are still few and far between.

Having a gym at home makes it possible to have the perfect setup, perfect equipment, and to keep an eye on your child or dog while you work out.

The benefits of having a gym at home are plentiful. Determine which room will work best as your home gym and get started on the project today.