average workout times thumbBusiness Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness

Unlike many refrains you hear about your health, exercise is really, truly good for you. There's a mountain of research backing up its many benefits.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 2.5 hours of moderate cardio activity or 1.25 hours of vigorous cardio activity every week, plus two days of strength training.

People in some states work out more than others, but even California — the state with the highest average number of minutes spent exercising every week (87.4) — falls short of the recommendations.

Exercise doesn't need to be fancy: Even small improvements like walking more or running up the stairs to your office can help. And you don't need to do SoulCycle or Pilates to get in shape — jumping jacks and push-ups in your bedroom count, too. Just get up and move.

If you need more convincing, here are 21 research-based benefits of exercise to help motivate you to leave the couch behind.

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