It seems like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. And when life gets busy, exercise is usually one of the easiest things to drop.

There are always excuses, and many feel completely valid because of the energy they require: work, children, commitments. But the simple, annoyingly certain truth is that regular exercise can actually make us feel better—even give us the energy we need to tackle our responsibilities.

Let’s be clear, though. We’re not talking about using exercise to achieve a certain body type. Bodily health comes in every shape and size! Weight is not wellness. Instead, we use exercise as a way to boost and measure the quality of life, at every stage of life.

Here are the top 10 benefits of exercise on our health, proving that it is just that important.

1. Exercise helps us live longer.

This is a big one. Research demonstrates clearly that regular exercise reduces the risk of mortality from all causes for most individuals, regardless of age.

The beneficial effects are dose-dependent, meaning that the more you exercise, the less likely you are to die. The effects of exercise alone have been independently studied and exceed the effects of other lifestyle changes to improve health (for instance, exercising has a bigger impact on the duration of life than quitting smoking). Vigorous exercise (at least 20 minutes three times a week) combined with regular exercise (at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week) cuts the risk of death by HALF.

2. Exercise reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Regular exercise decreases the likelihood of heart attacks and death related to heart problems. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women.

Not only does exercise make it less likely that heart disease will develop in the first place, but it reduces the likelihood that heart disease, if already present, will cause illness, impairment or death. It also significantly decreases the risk of stroke.

Both of these findings are thought to be related to the decrease in blood pressure that results from regular exercise, as well as decreased overall inflammation for people who exercise regularly. For both things, exercise makes it less likely that you will get them in the first place, and, if you are unlucky enough to get them, exercise will make the consequences less severe.

3. Exercise reduces the likelihood that you will become diabetic.

As with heart disease, regular aerobic exercise improves blood sugar levels and increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, both of which reduce the likelihood that existing Type 2 diabetes will progress and decrease the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes over one’s lifetime.

4. Exercise decreases your chances of developing cancer.

Exercise reduces the risk of developing breast, intestinal, prostate, endometrial (uterine), colorectal and pancreatic cancer. And not by a little: you are one-third less likely to develop these kinds of cancer if you exercise regularly.

5. Exercise is good for your bones.

Weight-bearing exercise (activities that involve standing, squatting, lifting, running, jumping, posing or planking) results in significant increases in bone mineral density, making it less likely that your bones will break now or as you age.

6. Exercise improves cognitive ability.

Dementia occurs much less frequently among individuals who have exercised regularly throughout their lives. Even among younger individuals not at risk for dementia, regular exercise results in significant improvements in cognitive function.

7. Exercise boosts your mood.

People who exercise regularly are less likely to have depression than those who don’t. And, people who are depressed report dramatic improvements in their moods and decreased depressive symptoms when they start exercising.

Higher energy expenditures also result in less overall stress, and people report less anxiety when they exercise regularly than when they have not made space for exercise in their lives.

8. Exercise improves your sleep quality.

We know exercise can help stabilize your mood, and this benefit carries over to the bedroom, too. Research has shown that regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and improve your overall quality of sleep. When life is busy, there’s nothing quite so valuable!

There’s still debate about what time to work out since exercise releases endorphins and raises your core temperature—two things that give you energy and may inhibit falling asleep. So just keep that in mind when fitting in your movement.

9. Exercise improves your functional strength.

Not only does regular exercise make it more likely that you will remain healthy and require fewer sick days from work, but it also makes it more likely that you will be able to take the stairs without panting; lift heavier objects; and engage in work, play and life with greater ability and ease.

Individuals without disabilities who regularly exercise are less likely to require assistance with their activities of daily living. For those with disabilities, exercise can improve overall function and enhance independent ability to perform certain tasks.

10. Exercise provides new opportunities to connect.

Taking a group fitness class, hiking with friends, biking with your significant other, or signing up for an organized event like a softball competition with a group of co-workers are just a few examples of how to integrate exercise into your life. With this, you’ll expose yourself to new experiences, creating a sense of accomplishment and fostering deeper connections with others.

Have you always wanted to learn to dance? Bend your body like the master yogis? Ski the slopes of Mount Hood with grace? Bike on behalf of children with muscular dystrophy? The possibilities are endless.

Hopefully, these reasons help you stay motivated to exercise regularly. Your best bet is by finding movement you really enjoy and making it part of your daily routine rather than waiting for motivation to strike.

You can exercise with a busy schedule. It is worth it, and you are worth it!