Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physical & mental - It may even help you live longer.
Here are the top 10 ways regular exercise benefits your body & brain.
It Can Make You Feel Happier
Exercise has been shown to improve your mood & decrease feelings of depression, anxiety & stress.
It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress & anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin & norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.
Exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings & reduce the perception of pain, it has also been shown to reduce symptoms in people suffering from anxiety.
Interestingly, it doesn't matter how intense your workout is. It seems that your mood can benefit from exercise no matter the intensity of the physical activity.
The effects of exercise on mood are so powerful that choosing to exercise (or not) even makes a difference over short periods.
It Can Help With Weight Loss
To understand the effect of exercise on weight reduction, it is important to understand the relationship between exercise & energy expenditure.
Your body spends energy in three ways: digesting food, exercising & maintaining body functions like your heartbeat & breathing.
While dieting, a reduced calorie intake will lower your metabolic rate, which will delay weight loss. On the contrary, regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which will burn more calories & help you lose weight.
Additionally, studies have shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training can maximize fat loss & muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight off.
It Is Good for Your Muscles & Bones
Exercise plays a vital role in building & maintaining strong muscles & bones. Activities like weight lifting can stimulate muscle building when paired with adequate protein intake. This is because exercise helps release hormones that promote the ability of your muscles to absorb amino acids. This helps them grow & reduces their breakdown.
As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass & function, which can lead to injuries & disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss & maintaining strength as you age.
Also, exercise helps build bone density when you're younger & helps to prevent osteoporosis later in life.
High-impact exercises have been shown to promote a higher bone density than non-impact sports like swimming & cycling.
It Can Increase Your Energy Levels
Exercise can be a real energy booster. One study found that six weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 healthy people who had reported persistent fatigue.
In fact, exercise seems to be more effective at combating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome than other treatments, including passive therapies like relaxation & stretching, or no treatment at all.
It Can Reduce Your Risk of Chronic Disease
Regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular fitness & body composition, while decreasing blood pressure & blood fat levels.
A lack of regular exercise — even in the short term — can lead to significant increases in belly fat, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes & heart disease. Therefore, daily physical activity is recommended to reduce belly fat & decrease the risk of developing these diseases.
It Can Help Skin Health
Your skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body which occurs when the body's antioxidant defences cannot completely repair the damage that free radicals cause to cells. This can damage their internal structures & deteriorate your skin.
Regular moderate exercise can increase your body's production of natural antioxidants, which help protect cells. It also stimulats blood flow that can help delay the appearance of skin aging.
It Can Help Your Brain Health & Memory
Exercise can improve brain function & protect memory & thinking skills. To begin with, it increases your heart rate, which promotes the flow of blood & oxygen to your brain. It can also stimulate the production of hormones that can enhance the growth of brain cells.
Regular physical activity is especially important in older adults since aging — combined with oxidative stress & inflammation — promotes changes in brain structure & function.
Exercise has been shown to cause the hippocampus, a part of the brain that's vital for memory & learning, to grow in size. This serves to increase mental function in older adults.
It Can Help With Relaxation & Sleep Quality
Regular exercise can help you relax & sleep better. One study found that 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week can provide up to a 65% improvement in sleep quality.
Another showed that 16 weeks of physical activity increased sleep quality & helped 17 people with insomnia sleep longer & more deeply than the control group. It also helped them feel more energized during the day.
It Can Reduce Pain
Chronic pain can be debilitating, but exercise can actually help reduce it. Several studies show that exercise can help control pain that's associated with various health conditions, including chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia & chronic soft tissue shoulder disorder, to name a few. Additionally, physical activity can also raise pain tolerance & decrease pain perception.
It Can Promote a Better Sex Life
Engaging in regular exercise can strengthen the cardiovascular system, improve blood circulation, tone muscles & enhance flexibility, all of which can improve your sex life.
Physical activity can improve sexual performance & sexual pleasure, as well as increase the frequency of sexual activity.
A group of women in their 40's observed that they experienced orgasms more frequently when they incorporated more strenuous exercise, such as sprints, boot camps & weight training, into their lifestyles. What's more, a study demonstrated that women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome, which can reduce sex drive, increased their sex drive with regular resistance training for 16 weeks.
Exercise offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health from the inside out.
Regular physical activity can increase the production of hormones that make you feel happier & help you sleep better.
It can also improve your skin's appearance, help you lose weight & keep it off, lessen the risk of chronic disease & improve your sex life.
If you follow the guideline of 150 minutes of activity per week, you will inevitably improve your health in many ways - You Got This!