8 Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Exercise: Guest Blog by Harper Reid

“Walking is man’s best medicine.” ~ Hippocrates

Most people are aware that exercise as a general concept is good, but that doesn’t mean they care. Eighty percent of Americans and forty percent of people worldwide don’t get their recommended amount of exercise, which is largely due to easier access to transport and an increase of people working in offices.

Photo Credit: Geert Pieters via Unsplash

Although most people know exercise is good, they don’t know the full benefits of the recommended 20 minutes of exercise a day – so here is a breakdown for you:

  1. Exercise helps with mental health

Among other major benefits, exercise can reduce anxiety and help relieve depression. Exercise boosts your mental health by releasing chemicals and endorphins, such as dopamine and serotonin, into your brain. These chemicals are generally perceived by your brain as happiness – lightening your mood and having a calming effect on your body.

Exercise also raises your body temperature which can be pleasant and calming. Regular exercise also creates increased blood flow to your brain, encouraging the development of new brain cells and reducing the risk of dementia. 

  1. Exercise helps manage weight loss

 Exercising regularly also causes you to burn more calories, which is a key way to lose weight. You will also build muscle mass through exercise, particularly if you’re doing strength training. This leads to increased metabolism, which helps you process your calories faster.

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Although building muscle will increase your overall weight, regular exercise will also keep you fit and trim by keeping your body fat at a healthy level.

  1. Reduces your chances of cancer

 Exercise can actually reduce your chances of getting some cancers – including lowering the chances of bowel cancer by twenty-five percent and womb cancer by thirty-three percent.  Since exercise already helps you to manage your weight, you will have a lesser risk of obesity, which is also the cause of some cancers.  Of course, exercise cannot provide a complete safeguard from the risk of all cancers, with factors such as environmental conditions, genetics, smoking, and food, alcohol and drug intake also playing a role in managing the risk of cancer.

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  1. Improves overall energy and performance

 Exercise fills your brain with endorphins and increases blood flow – oxygenating your brain and body and giving you more energy throughout your day. Because of these long-lasting energising effects, many people choose to exercise in the morning at home or before they go to work. Even gentle exercises can improve lymphatic system function, reduce common pains such as headaches, and increase balance and coordination. Exercising will also help you to gain a stronger cardiovascular system, meaning you will be able to stay energetic for longer periods of time. 

  1. Reduces chances of disease

Exercising regularly helps to alleviate fatigue and prevent certain diseases. People who exercise will develop a stronger heart and stronger lungs, which helps to alleviate fatigue and reduce your risk of getting diabetes. Aerobic exercise has also been proven to help people gain relief from asthma symptoms. 

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  1. Helps you sleep

 Studies have shown that regular exercise can lead to a sixty-five percent improvement in sleep quality. So, if you often have trouble getting to sleep at night, try exercising to relax your body and mind, and watch your sleep improve. 

  1. Lowers stress levels

Exercise is a worthwhile focus that helps take your mind off stresses and worries. When working your exercise plan, you will see yourself achieving goals and hitting targets, giving you a sense of reward. This satisfying combination, created by setting and reaching goals combined with the rush of chemicals your brain gets from exercise, will help lower your stress levels. 

  1. Improves brain power

Studies have shown that exercise improves memory and brain power through generating new tissues in your brain which are likely to be directly related to memory function.

Exercise will help you lose weight, improve brain function, lower stress and help improve mental health, but the list of benefits doesn’t stop here. There are countless physical and mental health benefits of exercise, so consider jogging, walking, swimming, jumping on a trampoline, rowing or working out at the gym today.

An interesting article about the benefits of bounce.

Photo Credit: Bruno Nascimento via Unsplash

If you’re looking to start a vigorous workout routine or have pre-existing medical conditions, speak to your doctor or a training specialist to discover what exercise method is best for you.

Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who is passionate about healthy living and fitness. Her idea of a perfect weekend is going for a beach run, hiking with friends or simply practicing yoga in her backyard. You can find more of her work on Tumblr.

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