5 Surprising Benefits of Exercise
We all know that exercise will tone your muscles and keep you fit. It might even help your heart or keep your blood pressure in check. But there are many, many other reasons to hit the gym or the trails regularly. From healthy skin to a sharper mind, read on to check out some of the most surprising benefits of exercise.
1. Boosts Brainpower & Productivity.
Hitting the gym doesn’t just strengthen your muscles, it can also strengthen your brain. Study after study has linked regular exercise to everything from better grades in school to a stronger memory. Other studies have shown that working out can help improve concentration, boost creativity and help with your productivity in the office. Seniors can especially see benefits in regular exercise, because it keeps your mental capacity in shape and aids in lowering the risk of dementia.
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2. Improves Skin.
Working out can actually help you look younger. When you break a sweat, your circulation increases; the more blood that reaches your skin, the more your body naturally repairs skin damage, and the harder your collagen works to stay strong and elastic. Exercise can improve the skin of younger folks, too.
3. Helps Digestion.
Regular exercise can actually help keep you, well, regular. Working out helps your intestines speed up the time it takes to break down food; the faster food is broken down in the digestive tract, the less likely you are to be constipated.
4. Boosts Self-Esteem.
Experts have long linked regular exercise to lower rates of depression, stress, and anxiety. One recent British study (PDF) has taken it even further than that, finding that exercise also helps you feel better about yourself. The study showed that women on a regular exercise program had higher levels of self-esteem and self-acceptance. The researchers found that aerobic exercises, like walking, swimming, and running, were particularly good for boosting self-esteem. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. The best exercise for boosting your mood is the one you enjoy the most.
5. Reduces Risk of Cancer.
More and more scientific studies are showing that, when it comes to preventing cancer, regular exercise is one of your best weapons. It’s thought that nearly one-third of all cancer-related deaths are due to a sedentary lifestyle and/or obesity. And that includes two of the most common forms: breast and colon cancers. Women who exercise regularly, for example, have a 30 to 40% lower risk of developing breast cancer than their sedentary counterparts; the rate is about 20% for colon cancer.