9 Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Exercise

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It’s the miracle cure we’ve all been waiting for.

Exercise is free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some. It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.

Health benefits of exercise

If you’re not sure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you’re afraid of getting hurt, the good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people.

exercise

Here are nine ways exercise benefits you.

1. Exercise can help you lose weight.

Some studies have shown that inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity.

To understand the effect of exercise on weight reduction, it is important to understand the relationship between exercise and energy expenditure.

Your body spends energy in three ways: digesting food, exercising and maintaining body functions like your heartbeat and breathing.

While dieting, a reduced calorie intake will lower your metabolic rate, which will delay weight loss. On the contrary, regular exercise increases your metabolic rate, which will burn more calories and help you lose weight.

Additionally, studies have shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training can maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight off.

2. Exercise makes your bones and muscles strong.

Exercise plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.

Physical activity 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 and reduces their breakdown.

As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to injuries and disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age…

Also, exercise helps build bone density when you’re younger, in addition to helping prevent osteoporosis later in life.

Interestingly, high-impact exercise, such as gymnastics or running, or odd-impact sports, such as soccer and basketball, has been shown to promote a higher bone density than non-impact sports like swimming and cycling.

health benefits of exercise

3. Exercise keeps your skin healthy.

Your skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body.

Oxidative stress occurs when the body’s antioxidant defenses cannot completely repair the damage that free radicals cause to cells. This can damage their internal structures and deteriorate your skin.

Even though intense and exhaustive physical activity can contribute to oxidative damage, regular moderate exercise can increase your body’s production of natural antioxidants, which help protect cells.

In the same way, exercise can stimulate blood flow and induce skin cell adaptations that can help delay the appearance of skin aging.

4. Exercise improves your sleep

Regular exercise can help you relax and sleep better.

In regards to sleep quality, the energy depletion that occurs during exercise stimulates recuperative processes during sleep.

Moreover, the increase in body temperature that occurs during exercise is thought to improve sleep quality by helping it drop during sleep.

Many studies on the effects of exercise on sleep have reached similar conclusions.

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 and helped 17 people with insomnia sleep longer and more deeply than the control group. It also helped them feel more energized during the day.

What’s more, engaging in regular exercise seems to be beneficial for the elderly, who tend to be affected by sleep disorders.

You can be flexible with the kind of exercise you choose. It appears that either aerobic exercise alone or aerobic exercise combined with resistance training can equally help sleep quality.

5. Exercise can reduce your pain.

Chronic pain can be debilitating, but exercise can actually help reduce it.

In fact, for many years, the recommendation for treating chronic pain was rest and inactivity. However, recent studies show that exercise helps relieve chronic pain.

A review of several studies indicates that exercise helps participants with chronic pain reduce their pain and improve their quality of life.

Several studies show that exercise can help control pain that are associated with various health conditions, including chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic soft tissue shoulder disorder, to name a few.

Additionally, physical activity can also raise pain tolerance and decrease pain perception.

6. Exercise improves your brain functions.

Exercise can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills.

To begin with, it increases your heart rate, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain.

It can also stimulate the production of hormones that can enhance the growth of brain cells.

Moreover, the ability of exercise to prevent chronic disease can translate into benefits for your brain, since its function can be affected by these diseases.

Regular physical activity is especially important in older adults since aging — combined with oxidative stress and inflammation — promotes changes in brain structure and function.

Exercise has been shown to cause the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s vital for memory and learning, to grow in size. This serves to increase mental function in older adults.

Lastly, exercise has been shown to reduce changes in the brain that can cause Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

7. Exercise may prevent chronic diseases.

Lack of regular physical activity is a primary cause of chronic disease.

Regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular fitness, and body composition, yet decrease blood pressure and blood fat levels.

In contrast, 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, and early death.

Therefore, daily physical activity is recommended to reduce belly fat and decrease the risk of developing these diseases.

8. Exercise increases your energy levels

Exercise can be a real energy booster for healthy people, as well as those suffering from various medical conditions.

One study found that six weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 healthy people who had reported persistent fatigue.

Furthermore, exercise can significantly increase energy levels for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other serious illnesses.

In fact, exercise seems to be more effective at combating CFS than other treatments, including passive therapies like relaxation and stretching, or no treatment at all.

Additionally, exercise has been shown to increase energy levels in people suffering from progressive illnesses, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis.

9. Exercise improves your mood

Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.

It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.

Furthermore, exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms in people suffering from anxiety. It can also help them be more aware of their mental state and practice distraction from their fears.

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.

In fact, a study in 24 women who had been diagnosed with depression showed that exercise of any intensity significantly decreased feelings of depression.

The effects of exercise on mood are so powerful that choosing to exercise (or not) even makes a difference over short periods.

One study asked 26 healthy men and women who normally exercised regularly to either continue exercising or stop exercising for two weeks. Those who stopped exercising experienced increases in a negative mood.

How much is enough?

To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)

Or:

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)

Or:

  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week – for example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)

A good rule is that 1 minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as 2 minutes of moderate activity.

One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days every week.

All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity.

Moderate activity

Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

  • brisk walking
  • water aerobics
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • volleyball
  • basketball

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.

One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you can’t sing the words to a song.

Vigorous activity

There’s good evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity.

Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:

  • jogging or running
  • swimming fast
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • singles tennis
  • football
  • rugby
  • skipping rope
  • hockey
  • aerobics
  • gymnastics
  • martial arts

Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

In general, 75 minutes of vigorous activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate activity.

Strength exercise

Muscle strength is necessary:

  • for all daily movement
  • to build and maintain strong bones
  • regulating blood sugar and blood pressure
  • to help maintain a healthy weight

Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is 1 complete movement of an activity, like a biceps curl or a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.

For each strength exercise, try to do:

  • at least 1 set
  • 8 to 12 repetitions in each set

To get health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them to the point where you struggle to complete another repetition.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it’s at home or in the gym.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for most people include:

  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shoveling
  • yoga
  • pilates

You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity – whatever’s best for you.

Muscle-strengthening exercises are not an aerobic activity, so you’ll need to do them in addition to your 150 minutes of aerobic activity.

Some vigorous activities count as both an aerobic activity and a muscle-strengthening activity.

Examples include:

  • circuit training
  • aerobics
  • running
  • football
  • rugby
  • netball
  • hockey

Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity – age, ethnicity, shape or size do not matter.

https://www.bythewayhealth.com/9-health-benefits-of-weight-lifting/

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