Exercise is defined as any movement that makes your muscles work and requires your body to burn calories.
There are many types of physical activity, including swimming, running, jogging, walking, and dancing, to name a few.
Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It may even help you live longer
Here are the top 5 ways regular exercise benefits your body and brain.
1. Exercise can make you feel happier
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 to the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression
Additionally, exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain
Interestingly, it doesn’t matter how intense your workout is. It seems that exercise can benefit your mood no matter the intensity of the physical activity.
In fact, in a study in 24 women diagnosed with depression, 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 of time.
One review of 19 studies found that active people who stopped exercising regularly experienced significant increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety, even after only a few weeks
Exercising regularly can improve your mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
2. Exercise can help with weight loss
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 (spending).
Your body spends energy in three ways:
- digesting food
- maintaining body functions, like your heartbeat and breathing
While dieting, a reduced calorie intake will lower your metabolic rate, which can temporarily delay weight loss. On the contrary, regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which can burn more calories to 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 and maintaining lean muscle mass
Exercise is crucial to supporting a healthy metabolism and burning more calories per day. It also helps you maintain your muscle mass and weight loss.
3. Exercise is good for your muscles and bones
Exercise plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.
Activities like weightlifting can stimulate muscle building when paired with adequate protein intake.
This is because exercise helps release hormones that promote your muscles’ ability 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 an increased risk of injury. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age.
Exercise also helps build bone density when you’re younger, in addition to helping prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Some research suggests that high impact exercise (such as gymnastics or running) or odd impact sports (such as soccer and basketball) may help promote a higher bone density than no impact sports like swimming and cycling.
Physical activity helps you build muscles and strong bones. It may also help prevent osteoporosis.
4. Exercise can increase your energy levels
Exercise can be a real energy booster for many people, including those with various medical conditions
One older study found that 6 weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 people who had reported persistent fatigue
Exercise can also significantly increase energy levels for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other health conditions
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
And let’s not forget the fantastic heart and lung health benefits of exercise. Aerobic exercise boosts the cardiovascular system and improves lung health, which can significantly help with energy levels.
As you move more, your heart pumps more blood, delivering more oxygen to your working muscles. With regular exercise, your heart becomes more efficient and adept at moving oxygen into your blood, making your muscles more efficient
Over time, this aerobic training results in less demand on your lungs, and it requires less energy to perform the same activities — one of the reasons you’re less likely to get short of breath during vigorous activity
Additionally, exercise has been shown to increase energy levels in people with other conditions, such as cancer
Engaging in regular physical activity can increase your energy levels. This is true even in people with persistent fatigue and those with serious health conditions.
5. Exercise can help your brain health and memory
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 enhance the growth of brain cells.
Plus, the ability of exercise to prevent chronic disease can translate into benefits for your brain, since its function can be affected by these conditions
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, which may help improve mental function in older adults
Lastly, exercise has been shown to reduce changes in the brain that can contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Regular exercise improves blood flow to the brain and helps brain health and memory. Among older adults, it can help protect mental function.