Benefits of Exercise: Physical, Mental, Cognitive And More
You’ve always known that exercise can help you stay fit and look good.
Exercise is an important catalyst to stimulate muscle growth and promote improvement in your physique.
However, exercise is not just physical – it is nature's ultimate pill for both your mind and body.
There’s a lot going on inside a human body during exercise. It is similar to taking a drug that targets multiple organs in your body and drives your mind in a positive direction.
When performing an exercise, our brain is overwhelmed with dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for happiness and feelings of accomplishment.
This results in mood elevation and increased self-worth.
Your heart works extra hard during exercise to meet the demand for oxygen throughout your body.
Just like any other muscle, your heart muscle walls become stronger and allows your heart to pump more blood efficiently as you exercise.
Aerobic exercise eventually results in a decrease in your blood pressure.
Regular exercise improves your metabolism and aids your digestion.
Additionally, exercise also balances gut bacterial growth and prevents the growth of harmful microbes in your stomach.
In the recent decade, there have been a lot of studies about pain management, and exercise always finds its way to the spotlight among thousands of research articles about pain.
Exercise, directly and indirectly, inhibits the pain pathways in our bodies.
This means that exercise is potent in activating our body’s natural pain killers.
Exercise stimulates the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, which helps you maintain a healthy weight.
Aerobic exercises promote the reduction of anxiety and stress levels by releasing endorphins, neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure.
The intensity of your exercise programs is more effective at treating symptoms of anxiety. The more engaged you are in your exercise, the better results you will get both physically and mentally.
Exercise supports neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells. Allowing your body and mind to be fully engaged in your exercise routines enables you to keep producing new brain cells over and over.
The more brain cells you have, the sharper your mind is, and the better you perform complex tasks.
A study found out that exercise could promote cognitive function among children and carry it later in life.
Exercise enhances your critical thinking abilities and problem solving skills which are beneficial with real world problems.
Exercise is a potent enhancer of hippocampal neurogenesis. Hippocampus is the area of the brain responsible for the ability to learn new things and remember them.
Cognitive decline due to aging can be prevented through regular exercise.
Additionally, People with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's disease can effectively delay the progression of their condition through exercise programs.
Lack of physical activity is the leading cause of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases.
The absence of regular exercise, even for a short term, can increase your belly fat and increases your risk of having heart problems.
The blood carries vital nutrients to keep you healthy. And because exercise boosts blood flow throughout the body, it helps nourish key organs, including skin cells.
Regular exercises also stimulate the production of skin’s natural oil, which delivers natural moisture across the skin and helps keep the skin smooth and soft.
Addiction is a habit that you unconsciously programmed in your brain through an action-reward system.
Whenever we perform a habit, our brain gets rewarded with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good.
Through exercise, people who are suffering from addiction can distract them from cravings.
Making exercise a habit can effectively replace your bad habits or addiction.
Your brain also gets tons of dopamine rewards every time you exercise.
People who exercise regularly are more productive at work and achieve their goals in their career or business fast.
Exercise raises your energy levels, combats mental stress and improves general well being.
In addition, feeling happy and confident gives you an extra boost to complete the task at hand.
Your ability to imagine the future and think creatively also depends on the hippocampal region of your brain.
Physical activity is known to promote neural connection and increase brain activity in the area of the hippocampus.
Creative people sometimes use bodily movement to help overcome “mental blocks”.
Sleep is your body's way of recharging itself, and meaningful sleep happens when you achieve deep sleep.
Moderate to high-intensity workouts improve the quality of your sleep during the night.
Exercise reduces the time it takes for you to fall asleep and decreases the amount of time you lie awake in bed.
More importantly, morning exercises signal the release of melatonin early in the evening.
Melatonin is the hormone responsible for your sleep-wake cycle. Achieving an optimal sleep results in a significant increase in energy throughout the day.
Exercise allows your brain to achieve neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of your brain to rewire itself and modify its neural connections.
Brain injury such as stroke can disrupt your brain and body connections, resulting in paralysis and inability to perform movements on one side of your body.
Fortunately, through extensive exercise, people who suffer from this condition can regain their function and abilities to move again.
Exercise has unique positive benefits throughout your body with almost zero side effects and is entirely free of cost.
It is so good that a whole medical field, called physiotherapy, is dedicated to using exercise as a treatment in combating various conditions and impairments.
- Mul. J., Stanford., K., Hirshman, M. & Goodyear, L. (2015). Exercise and Regulation of Carbohydrate metabolism
- Griffin, E., Mullaly, S., Foley, C., Warmington, S., O’Mara, S & Kelly, A. (2011). Aerobic exercise improves hippocampal function and increases BDNF in the serum of young adult males
- De la Rosa, A., Solana, E., Corpas, R., Bartres-Faz, D., Pallas, M., Vina, J., Sanelu, C. & Cabrera, M. (2019). Long-term exercise training improves memory in middle-aged men and modulates peripheral levels of BDNF and Cathepsin B
- Aylett, E., Small, N., & Bower, P. (2018). Exercise in the treatment of clinical anxiety in general practice - a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Mandolesi, L., Polverino, A., Montouri, S., Foti, F., Ferraioli, G., Sorrentino, P., & Sorrentino, G. (2018). Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits
- Pinilla, F. & Hillman, C. (2013). The influence of Exercise on Cognitive Abilities
- Ma, C., Ma, X., Wang, J., Liu, H., Chen, Y. & Yang, Y. (2017). Physical exercise induces hippocampal neurogenesis and prevents cognitive decline
- Twark, C. (2018). Can exercise help conquer addiction?
- Pacheco, D. (2021). Exercise and Sleep
- Lin, T., Tsai, S. & Kuo, Y. (2018). Physical Exercise Enhances Neuroplasticity and Delays Alzheimer’s Disease
- Booth, F., Roberts, C., Thyfault, J., Reugsegger, G. & Toedebusch, R. (2017). Role of Inactivity in Chronic Diseases: Evolutionary Insight and Pathophysiological Mechanism