You probably all know that exercise is good for you – and you’ve already heard that it’s “heart healthy.” But are you motivated to get out there and sweat? Did you know that only 20% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardio activity per week, with more than half of all baby boomers doing no exercising whatsoever? And over 80.2 million Americans over the age of 6 are entirely inactive.
There is hope. With emerging research and compelling reasons to start moving, Americans should be jumping on this bandwagon. Scientists are learning that exercise is, actually, medicine for the body and mind. Here are just a few of the amazing things that happen to a body in motion.
Exercise is linked to less depression, better memory, and quicker learning. Studies also suggest that exercise could even be the best way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists don’t know exactly why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain, but it is an extremely active area in research. They have found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, and feeds the growth of new blood vessels and even brain cells. Exercise can also help with attention and focus.
Countless studies have shown that many types of exercising, from walking to cycling and weightlifting make people feel better and can relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain like serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine – lightening mood, dulling pain, and best of all relieving stress. For years research focused on the physical benefits of exercise, recently shifting gears focusing on the psychological and physical benefits.
This is a benefit that we all can agree is worth the time in the gym or on a trail. Exercise has been shown to lengthen lifespan by as much as five years! A new study suggests that moderate-intensity exercise may slow down the aging of cells. As humans get older and cells divide over and over, their telomeres or protective caps on the end of chromosomes get shorter. The researchers took a muscle biopsy and blood samples from 10 healthy people before and after a 45-minute bike ride. They found that exercise increased levels of a molecule that protects telomeres, ultimately slowing how quickly they shorten over time… appearing to slow aging at a cellular level.
Forget the acne associated with sweating. Aerobic exercise actually increases blood flow to the skin, delivering oxygen and essential nutrients that improve skin health and even help wounds heal faster. So, when you have an injury, get moving! Exercise will not only ensure that your muscle won’t atrophy, but will also make sure there is good blood flow to the skin around the injury. The longer you train, the more blood vessels and tiny capillaries you’ll add to your skin.
For decades, people with different chronic conditions were advised not to exercise. However, a recent analysis of more than 300 clinical trials discovered that for people recovering from a stroke, exercise was even more effective at rehabilitation. Vigorous exercise – like interval training can, in fact, be appropriate for people with different chronic conditions. From Type 2 diabetes to heart failure, this new view is impacting the medical field and patients across the globe.