Benefits of Exercise

benefits of exercise - endorphins [pic of a man smiling]
Endorphins at work

The benefits of exercise on Your Head.

Exercise increases blood flow (see Your Heart below) which means more oxygen and nutrients for the brain. And while regular exercise won’t turn you into genius, it can make your more “mental” as a couple chemicals in the brain are increased:

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter. As you exercise, levels of serotonin increase, helping improves mental clarity and focus. Serotonin is also responsible for elevating your mood, which helps battle stress and depression.

Endorphins, the “happy” hormones. Another brain boost from exercise is the increase in endorphins, the hormones associated with positive feelings. And for those of you looking for a little pick-me-up during the day, these same endorphins that help make you happy can also provide you with more energy.

In addition, researchers in Scotland conducted a study of 638 seventy-year olds. They took MRIs and had them answer questions about the activity levels and how often they played “brain games” typically associated with keeping the mind sharp. Three years later, they took another MRI and compared the amount of degeneration in the brain, in both size and white matter. They compared the results to the answers on the questionnaires and found that those engaging in regular physical activity had less age-related decline.

The benefits of exercise on Your Heart.

benefits of exercise - a healthy heart [image of heart with stethoscope on it]Increased cardiovascular endurance strengthens the heart and improves the circulatory system overall. This improvement reduces the chance/amount of plaque build-up while increasing the efficiency of the heart, meaning it pumps more blood with each beat, resulting in a lower heart rate. What does that mean? Basically, it means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job on a regular basis,, and when you ask it to ramp up the flow, during exercise, for instance, it is better prepared to do so.

Exercise also boosts your high density lipoprotein (HDL) -a.k.a. “good cholesterol”- while decreasing your triglycerides. This not only benefits your heart, but also helps reduce your risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The benefits of exercise on Your Health.

Aside from helping you get to or maintain a healthy weight, regular exercise can help in many other areas:

  • Weight bearing exercises have been shown to increase bone density, which helps prevent osteoporosis and broken bones due to falls.
  • Strength training, even resistance/body weight training, can help prevent the loss of muscle mass.
  • People who exercise regularly tend to fall asleep easier and have deeper sleep.
  • According to a CDC article* on the benefits of exercise, physical activity lowers your risk of colon and breast cancer.
  • Along with muscles and bones, joints also get stronger with exercise.

So…whatever you choose to do…just get out there and exercise.

benefits of exercise - increased health [image montage of icons doing various activities]

 

*CDC Article: The Benefits of Physical Activity
images courtesy of Pixabay

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