Next to healthy foods, the best medicine your doctor can “prescribe” is daily exercise. The list of exercises’ benefits ranges from a more restful sleep, an enhanced immune system, burns calories leading to weight loss, improves mood, and many more.
These benefits will certainly do more good than harm but, if you haven’t been active for a while or have certain health or physical limitations making physical activity more challenging, speak to your doctor first before beginning a new exercise regimen. The important thing is to find out what suits you best and to go at your own pace that fits your current physical condition and lifestyle routine.
Here’s a look at consistent exercise’s influence on your body, inside and out. From head to toe, becoming and remaining physically active throughout your life, will be one of the biggest factors keeping you healthy long-term.
Your brain on exercise will reap tremendous benefits. The benefits exercise provides come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance and inflammation and to stimulate the release of growth factors. Growth factors are chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
It is also known that regular exercise improves our mood and sleep while reducing stress and anxiety. If a person is having problems in these areas, it can frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.
Studies have suggested that parts of our brains which control memory and thinking have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. In fact, just engaging in a regular routine of exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions.
If there’s an organ that begs you to exercise, it’s your heart. Any physical activity that elevates heart rate – bicycling, swimming, brisk walking, running – helps improve the efficiency of the heart and enhances its ability to pump blood throughout your body. With each beat of your heart, more blood will be pushed out slowing the resting pulse rate which keeps blood pressure under control. Exercise consistently and the tissues of your body will have an easier time of pulling oxygen from the blood reducing becoming out of breath during high-intensity activities.
Just the act of doing an aerobic activity each day allows better blood flow in arteries surrounding your heart. If anyone of them becomes clogged by plaque buildup, this can lead to a heart attack. It’s also well-known that exercise increases the “good” cholesterol called HDL cholesterol-lowering heart disease risk by removing artery-clogging LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
To maintain healthy, functioning joints, exercise is a must. In fact, no medicine or surgery comes even close to the benefits of staying physically active. Physical activity encourages the circulation of synovial fluid which acts like oil in an engine and allows bones to move past one another more smoothly without pain. Exercise also elevates your heart rate increasing blood circulation throughout your body, including your joints. This also improves the exposure of nourishing oxygen and nutrients to the synovial membrane, which surrounds joints.
Another bonus of exercise on joint health is that it strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding joints. If you want to protect your joints keeping tissues strong, exercise is your go-to. So keep moving with joint-friendly exercises such as walking, bicycling, water aerobics, or dancing.
Regular exercise is one of the best practices for younger-looking skin. Exercise improves circulation meaning blood will deliver more nutrients to your skin giving you a post-workout “glow” with improved vitality. This same improved blood flow also is vital for removing toxins from the skin.
Anyone suffering from chronic skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis, would benefit from physical activity. Exercise reduces hormonal and immune responses to stress that can trigger these types of skin conditions causing breakouts, inflammation, and allergic skin reactions.
Another bonus is that individuals, who exercise at least 30 minutes daily, frequently have healthier skin compared to those who are more sedentary.
To build and maintain strong bones, exercise is essential. Exercise works on bones much like it works on muscles – bones become stronger. Because bone is living tissue, it changes over time in response to the forces placed upon it. Regular exercise helps bones adapt by building more bone along with the density of the bones.
Exercise also improves balance and coordination which is especially important as you grow older helping prevent falls and broken bones that may result. The best weight-bearing exercise you can do slowing bone loss and strengthening bone include brisk walking and hiking, jogging/running, dancing, jumping rope, hopscotch, playing tennis, badminton, or pickleball, playing team sports such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball, and stair climbing.
Strength training exercises, such as using weight machines, free weights, and exercises using your own bodyweight like push-ups, also put stress on bones and have bone-building capacity.