Exercise was once viewed as little more than sport. But during the past several decades, experts and enthusiasts alike came to realize that physical activity isn’t just for fun; it has major benefits for the body and brain, too.

In fact, studies have found that exercise can be as effective, or even more effective, than medication for preventing diabetes, treating depression and preventing cognitive decline. In some cases, such as weight loss and weight maintenance, lifestyle changes that include exercise work where medications alone would fail.

Today, as science continues to uncover the many ways that exercise improves health – right down to the cellular level – there’s little doubt that working out can be, well, downright therapeutic.

That’s not to say that any one type of workout will cure all that ails you. While any exercise is better than none, “certain types are especially well suited for certain health goals,” says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “Choosing the right activity – as well as the correct duration, intensity and frequency – can help you achieve the best results, and allow you to make the most of your time.”

Ready to get more from your workouts? Read on to learn more about the most effective exercises for six health goals.

Goal: Increase Energy

Type of exercise: Any – really. A review by researchers at the University of Georgia of more than 70 studies that spanned 50 years found that people who did cardiovascular, strength training and/or flexibility exercises for at least 10 minutes a day saw an improvement in their energy levels after four to eight weeks.

Frequency: Four or more days a week

Intensity: Mild to vigorous

How it works: Working out stimulates your cardiovascular and nervous systems and boosts your brain’s production of feel-good neurotransmitters. What’s more, “Physical activity targets the root of exhaustion by reducing the severity of – and in some case even reversing – energy-sapping health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, arthritis and depression,” says Michelle Olson, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Lab at Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala.

The evidence: Persuasive. University of Georgia researchers tested the idea that exercise could treat fatigue in 36 adults with persistent fatigue who were not regular exercisers. They split the group into thirds. One group was prescribed 20 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling on an exercise bike three times a week for six weeks. Another group followed the same routine, but at an easier, low-intensity pace. The last group didn’t exercise at all. Both exercise groups reported a 20 percent increase in energy levels by the end of the study, which was published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.