5 Surprising Benefits of Exercise

We all know that consistent workouts keep us looking good and feeling great, but here are 5 surprising benefits to keep you motivated and moving!

  1. Exercise Helps Alleviate Depression and Anxiety

Taking invigorating daily walks around the neighborhood may help you fight off bouts of depression.

In a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine in 2007, researchers found that just 30 minutes of light- to moderate-intensity exercise (think: brisk walking or jogging) was enough to alleviate many symptoms of major depression and may be just as effective as medication.

Exercise may also help people with anxiety disorders. When exercising, the body produces many of the same physical reactions as it does during a panic attack and can help the brain associate those reactions (heavy perspiration, increased breathing, elevated heart rate) with safety instead of danger.

  1. Exercise Helps You Poop 

That’s right: The next time you feel “slow”, try some cardio. The American Gastroenterological Association advises on its website to get at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week for treatment of chronic constipation.

Yoga may also help keep you regular. Many practitioners believe that deep breathing combined with twisting postures can help physically move waste through the intestines.

  1. Exercise Helps You Relax and Get Some ZZZs

If you have a hard time getting to sleep or staying asleep, try incorporating more movement into your daily routine.

In a study performed on mice, researchers found that mice that performed at least 30 minutes of exercise experienced a significant increase in the soundness of their sleep.

(The National Sleep Foundation also recommends exercise to help treat chronic insomnia, the most common sleep disorder among adults.)

  1. Exercise Helps You Be More Productive

One of the most common reasons people don’t exercise is due to lack of time and/or energy. Studies prove, however, that people who exercise are MORE energetic and productive.

This is how it works: With age, your body produces fewer brain cells. Exercise fights this by increasing the growth and development of your brain cells, which in turn improves memory and cognitive function.

Studies have found that purely through exercise (as opposed to medication and/or surgery), the brains of both young and old mice were positively affected by exercise. Some of these positive effects included increased learning and memory.

So next time you find yourself looking for your glasses (they are on on top of your head) or your keys, add an

  1. Exercise Helps Boost Your Self-Esteem

Before you can put your best face forward, you might want to work up a sweat.

Physical activity improves self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-concept, and self-efficacy, according to a 2009 paper published in The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. The authors suggest that any form of aerobic exercise will do — as long as you do it for at least 20 minutes. (I suggest Zumba!)

Be Well!
Gina Hobbs

 

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