Surprising Benefits of Exercise You Didn’t Know Existed

Surprising Benefits of Exercise You Didn’t Know Existed

By Professional Physical Therapy

We all know that exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and promoting physical fitness. It’s usually the first thing we think about when we want to manage our weight. Many people will be surprised to know that the benefit of exercising goes well beyond losing weight and your exercise goals can be relatively modest to achieve great results. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity (or 30 minutes per day for five days), and this may be accomplished simply by walking briskly.

Owen Lennon PT, DPT, OCS, at Professional Physical Therapy, sees firsthand the benefits of exercising and states, “As a physical therapist, it is very rewarding to see patients realize the benefits of exercise.  Many patients are becoming more aware of the rising cost of prescription drugs and potential side-effects and are looking for alternatives.  When patients successfully complete a course of care with a Physical Therapist, and then change their lifestyles to include regular exercise, they are taking a major step forward in their overall health.”

We will uncover some surprising benefits of exercise that you may not be aware ever existed. Below are numerous hidden gems that regular physical activity can offer.

Reduces your risk of chronic disease.

Health experts support the benefits of exercise. They claim exercise and remaining physically active can help the following conditions.

  • Heart disease/stroke
  • High cholesterol
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Some cancers

Boosts brain health and improves memory.

Exercise is linked to better memory, and quicker learning. Studies have found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain and raises brain-deprived neurotropic factor, commonly referred to as BDNF levels in our bloodstream which prompts the creation of new brain cells. It may also help people focus according to recent research. Research from UT Southwestern Medical Center in the US published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2019 also “found that people who had an accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain — a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — experienced slower degeneration in a region of the brain crucial for memory if they exercised regularly for one year.”

Makes your skin look healthier (and younger).

According to leading dermatologists, when you exercise the blood is pumped through your body, working our heart muscles, and circulating blood and oxygen. This increased blood flow during exercise can also result in improved circulation even when you are not exercising. That means your skin cells are nourished by this blood flow, leading to improved vitality and more effective cellular repair and replacement. Recent research also tells us that exercising may make it possible for you to look younger. With just thirty minutes of aerobic exercise each day you may just start looking younger.

Improves sleep quality.

If you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, regular exercise might be the solution you’ve been looking for. Engaging in physical activity has been linked to improved sleep quality and a reduction in insomnia symptoms. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercise does wonders for the quality of sleep by promoting deeper, restorative sleep. Physical activity also helps regulate your circadian rhythm – your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

Makes you less stressed and happier.

Studies show people experience positive effects from exercise, such as feeling good about themselves, improve your mood and decrease feeling of depression, anxiety, and stress. A 2019 study featured in Healthline found that 10-30 minutes of exercise is enough to improve your mood. Exercise also triggers the release of chemicals in the brain—serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine—that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress.

Boosts your immune system.

While moderate exercise is known to enhance the immune system, recent research has shed light on its surprising depth. A study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science revealed that regular, moderate-intensity exercise helps the immune system to detect and fight infections more effectively. This hidden benefit can contribute to a stronger defense against illnesses and infections.

Improves gut health.

Science suggests people who are more physically active develop more microbiomes and tend to have healthier guts. The gut microbiome, consisting of trillions of microorganisms living in our digestive system, plays a vital role in our overall health. An abundance of data suggests exercise has been found to positively influence the diversity and abundance of gut bacteria. A diverse and balanced gut microbiome is associated with improved digestion, nutrient absorption, and even mental well-being.

Beyond the well-known benefits of weight management and cardiovascular health, exercise offers a wealth of hidden advantages. From reducing risk of chronic disease and improving sleep quality to improving gut and brain health, the benefits of exercise are truly multifaceted. So, lace up those sneakers, hit the gym, or embrace an active lifestyle – your body and mind will thank you for it in ways you never knew existed.

If you want a movement or exercise plan or are experiencing pain that’s making it difficult to move, request an appointment at  Professional Physical Therapy for an assessment and/or physical therapy evaluation, so you can get your life healthier and more comfortable today!

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