The Benefits of Exercise - Real Health MD

The Benefits of Exercise

By Jennifer Simmons, MD

Exercise is commonly thought of as a way to control your weight.  However, the health benefits of exercise go well beyond weight control.  Here are 10 great reasons why you should have a daily exercise routine.

Here are 10 great reasons why you should have a daily exercise routine:

1. Exercise makes you happy!

Exercise changes the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It increases sensitivity for serotonin and norepinephrine, the brain chemicals that relieve feelings of depression. In fact, exercise has been clinically proven to be as good or better than any of the drugs on the market now intended to treat depression. So the next time you’re sad, take a walk. If you’re still sad, take another walk.

2. Aids in weight loss

Regular exercise increases your metabolism. More important than that though is that regular exercise increases the health of your microbiome which likely is the mechanism for weight control.

3. Helps build muscle and bone

The act of exercising leads to the release of hormones that promote your body’s ability to absorb amino acids. This helps to build muscle and bone, rather than break it down. High impact exercise helps to improve bone density more than low impact, but it all works.

4. Increases your energy

Regular exercise reduces fatigue in healthy people, and those suffering from chronic disease. It seems the more you do, the more you can do.

5. Promotes skin health

Regular exercise promotes your body’s production of antioxidants which helps to fight free radical damage in the skin. Exercise stimulates blood flow and enables healing and repair of skin cells which can reduce the signs of aging.

6. Reduces risk of chronic disease

Sedentary lifestyle is a primary cause of chronic disease. In case you haven’t heard, sitting is the new smoking. Even short-term lapses in exercise can lead to increased belly fat, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and early death.

7. Improves cognition and memory

Exercise increases your heart rate sending more blood and nutrients to the brain. It also stimulates the production of hormones that enhance the growth of brain cells. Exercise has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Exercise is especially important in the elderly as the effects of chronic disease on the brain make it especially vulnerable to inflammation.

8. Improves sleep

By depleting energy, it allows for a more recuperative process during sleep. In addition, the increase in body temperature during exercise allows for a lower body temperature during sleep improving sleep quality.

9. REDUCES pain

Exercise REDUCES pain. Several studies show that regular exercise reduces pain in conditions like low back pain, fibromyalgia, and rotator cuff pain. Regular exercise also increases pain tolerance and decreases pain perception.

10. Boosts sex drive

Exercise boosts your sex drive. Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, improves blood flow, tones your muscles, and improves flexibility-all of which can improve your sex life. It can improve sexual performance, sexual pleasure, and the frequency with which you have sex. For women, it can increase the frequency of orgasms. In men, it can significantly reduce erectile dysfunction.

Though the kind of exercise and amount of exercise you do matters, even small amounts of exercise can have positive effects on your health.  Ideally, you should aim for between 30-60 minutes a day.  Your routine should alternate between cardiovascular, strength training, flexibility, and balance.  Make sure you speak to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.  Put your work out in your schedule because it’s important and everything that is important goes in your schedule.  Make exercise a priority in your day, because you’re worth it.