The Benefits of Exercise

We often hear about the physical benefits of exercise (e.g., increasing heart health), less often are the psychological benefits promoted. Yet, engaging in a moderate amount of physical activity will result in improved mood and emotional states. Exercise can promote psychological well-being as well as improve quality of life. Exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits. It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.

Physical Health Benefits of Exercise

First, let’s check out just a few of the physical benefits of regular exercise:

  1. Weight loss and weight control
  2. Increased muscle strength and muscle mass (which helps burn calories and fat)
  3. Increased energy
  4. Improved flexibility and movement
  5. Lower risk of some types of cancer (Exercising at least 4 hours per week has been shown to lower risk of breast cancer by 37%!)
  6. Reduced risk of Diabetes 2 and metabolic syndrome
  7. Improved immune system, for overall better health
  8. Increased “good” cholesterol to keep blood flowing smoothly
  9. Lower risk of a heart attack and stroke
  10. Helps smokers quit with higher success rates
  11. Strength training & weight-bearing exercise (like walking, jogging, etc), promotes stronger bones (which is particularly helpful for women entering menopause, when bone density is lost)
  12. In short, Exercise can increase your life expectancy by an average of 7 years! (One study in New England Journal of Medicine showed that asymptomatic women who weren’t fit had twice the risk of death than those who were fit!)


Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Countless research studies show that exercise has incredible benefits not just for physical health, but for all areas of health, including mental, emotional, intellectual, and yes, even social well-being. Check these out, for a start!:

  1. Regular aerobic exercise increases levels of seratonin and dopamine in the brain, which is linked with improved mood
  2. Aerobic exercise increases endorphins, or the “feel good” chemicals in the body, improving mood and energy
  3. Exercise enhances the mind’s ability to withstand daily hassles and stressors and to regulate itself
  4. Research shows exercise can alleviate symptoms of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome and Depression in women
  5. Regular exercise has been shown equal to antidepressant use in treating Major Depressive Disorder
  6. Exercise is associated with deeper relaxation and better quality of sleep (which protects the brain and increases energy)
  7. Strength training has been shown to decrease tension and worry in the body and mind
  8. Studies show exercise reduces/treats and may prevent anxiety and panic attacks
  9. Exercise increases mental clarity and efficiency
  10. Improves cognitive functioning in middle age and beyond
  11. Exercise is associated with better thinking, learning, and judgment
  12. It can help you tap into intuition and creativity
  13. Exercise increases assertiveness and enthusiasm for life
  14. Studies show exercise leads to a higher quality sex life
  15. Group or partner exercise increases social activity and decreases feelings of loneliness and isolation
  16. Those who exercise regularly tend to have a better body-image
  17. Regular exercise is associated with higher self-esteem
  18. Overall, exercise is one of the best ways to improve happiness and life satisfaction


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