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Obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of exercise

We hear a lot about the good things that come to people who exercise. Of course, good things come to people who don’t exercise, too, but there are some pretty specific benefits to getting routine physical activity. It never hurts to have a refresher on some of the best things that a workout brings, and to spice the list up, we added some benefits that you might not have thought about before now.

Well-known Health benefits from exercise

  • Exercise helps your heart: Regular exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, your blood pressure, and your variable heart rate (the change in time intervals between one heartbeat and the next, and a strong indicator of your health). Exercise keeps your arteries limber, which prevents heart attacks, and it reduces your bad cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol.
  • Exercise prevents against chronic disease: The American Cancer Society is just one of the many, many organizations that reports exercise as an effective way to decrease your risk of cancer. Since exercise can help you have a leaner body, it also reduces your body’s risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to tumor growth. Exercise also helps your body get rid of bad bacteria that attacks your immune system and regulates your stress hormones (that can make you get sick), too.
  • Exercise is good for your bones and your brain: According to the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, exercise strengthens our bones by promoting bone density and strength. Preventing bone loss helps our bodies prevent fractures and breaks, and helps prevent and treat osteoporosis. Experts have been studying exercise and its effects on depression for over a century, and a huge body of studies show a positive relationship between increased exercise and decreased depressive symptoms. The American Psychological Association maintains that exercise helps our brains cope with stress, which might explain why physical activity is linked with lower rates of depression and anxiety.

Benefits you may not know about

  • It helps reduce anxiety: Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk, getting some exercise makes it less likely that you’ll experience anxiety later on in the day. A number of studies show that adults who get regular exercise are less likely to develop anxiety disorders than those who don’t get regular exercise.
  • Exercise helps with back pain: Contrary to what you might think, exercise doesn’t make back pain worse. It’s actually a form of treatment for lower back pain, as exercise strengthens your lower back and keeps the muscles in your back limber (which in turn helps reduce the chance of future back injury). Plus, the cognitive and mood-related benefits help reduce sensations of back pain.
  • You have a good excuse to avoid plans: What’s wrong with putting your health before plans that you’re just ‘meh’ about? Cutting an unwanted phone call short because you have to go on a run is good for you, for multiple reasons.

These are just a few of the benefits of getting regular exercise, and as time goes on you’ll definitely discover more! Consider it an enjoyable side effect of doing something that is really good for you, in more ways than, well, six!

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