Healthy Living

Exercise Health Benefits That Will Surprise You

Whether it is an endurance, strength, balance or flexibility workout, exercise is certainly one of the best things that we can do to stay healthy, active and fit. However, when we think of exercise, it understandably comes to mind healthy weight loss, getting or maintaining your desired physique and being able to do physical activities, but did you know that it has benefits that takes you beyond losing unwanted pounds?

Aside from helping you shed weight and/or maintain your form, physical exercise has other, lesser known health benefits that will surprise you:

Improves Immune System 

Exercise brings beneficial effects to your immune system. Moderate daily exercises not only result in fewer and less severe colds, but leave you with 50 percent less sick days than when you are not physically active. 

That is because exercise has been shown by research to increase the activity of immune cells called helper T-cells, which help strengthen the immune system's response to viruses like the cold and flu. Exercises with moderate intensity and duration (e.g. 30 to 60 minutes) bring you the best results.

Fights Inflammation 

Inflammation exacerbates chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Though a diet packed with food with anti-inflammatory properties is normally seen as one way of extinguishing it, regular exercises can also reduce inflammation, owing to the fact that they cause muscles to produce chemical signals that influence other organs. These chemical signals are called myokines, and one of these, IL-6, has potent anti-inflammatory effects.

Balances Gut Bacteria 

It is said that the bacteria naturally living in your intestines can affect your health. In other words, some of them are harmful, directly or indirectly causing health problems. Although the most obvious of these problems are gastrointestinal (GI) issues, "bad" bacteria can also influence your hormones and metabolism in ways that will lead to inflammation, obesity and heart disease. 

Of course, other bacteria is considered "good," having positive health effects. One way to balance out the "good" bacteria in your body is through exercise, which has been shown by research to have a beneficial effect on gut bacteria that can potentially influence GI system health, inflammation and weight control.

Boosts Brain Function 

Exercise was shown by research to increase not only the brain's blood flow, but also the production of BDNF that plays a role in the brain's growth and repair, resulting in long-term positive benefits to your brain that include improved learning and memory, better attention and ability to ignore distractions, enhanced stress management and improved mood.

Helps You Sleep Better 

You do not need sleeping pills to improve your nightly sleep because exercise is a healthy, safe and inexpensive way for you to get the zzz without experiencing or falling to the harmful side effects of any sleeping pill. 

That is because exercise depletes energy stores and elevates body temperature, which sleep restores and regulates while promoting tissue repair, resulting in improved sleep. In addition, it was shown by research to improve the sleep quality, mood and feelings of vitality in those with chronic insomnia.

exercise Physical activity boasts many physical and mental health benefits. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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