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Everybody knows that exercise is one of the most important and beneficial things you can do for your health. From building strength to helping manage weight, some of the benefits of regular physical activity are more well-known than others. Exercise is about more than just looking good, however, and research has proven that exercise may help improve more than just your strength and weight.
No matter your age or physical ability, almost everyone can experience the benefits of exercise. Whether you're trying to shed a few pounds, stay in shape, or just enjoy working out, there are few activities that can make as big of an impact on your quality of life and your health as regular exercise.
Here are just a few of the improvements that regular exercise can make to your life that you may not have known about.
Brain and Mental Health
You’ve probably heard that exercise can reduce stress and boost energy, but did you know that recent research has proven that regular physical activity can also improve memory, cognition, anxiety, depression, and learning?
According to research done by the CDC, cognitive decline in inactive adults was almost twice as common as in adults who exercised regularly. Exercise not only increases blood flow to the brain, but helps boost endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. Another study from Health.com found that regular exercise lowered levels of anxiety and depression in active adults. The study found that other benefits of exercise include better sleep, a lower risk of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's or dementia, and an overall improved quality of life.
Reduce Health Risks
Heart disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death in the U.S. Recent studies by the CDC, however, revealed that getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can reduce your risk for both diseases. Additional related studies found that physically active adults were anywhere from 12-23% less likely than inactive adults to develop certain cancers such as cancers of the bladder, breasts, colon, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung.
Type two diabetes and prediabetes can also be prevented or reversed with physical exercise. Prediabetes is when someone’s blood sugar is much higher than normal, but not quite high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Regular exercise has been proven to reverse prediabetes and prevent type two from ever occurring. According to the CDC, 96 million US adults are prediabetic and 80% of them don’t even know it.
Quality of Life
Everyone’s ultimate goal is to live a long, happy, and healthy life. Even doing something as simple as taking extra steps each day can help manage chronic pain conditions like arthritis, improve your ability to perform daily activities, and decreases your risk of premature death. The CDC estimates that more than 110,000 premature deaths per year could be prevented through even a small amount of exercise. As you get older, exercise becomes increasingly important as you may face physical and cognitive challenges. According to research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, regular exercise also decreases the risk of falls for older adults by 35 percent, something that could be detrimental to the physical health and quality of life for the elderly.
The best news about all these revelations is that it doesn’t take much to improve your life. Even simple and small choices like using the stairs instead of the elevator can make a difference. The CDC says that even 10 minutes of exercise a day is better than none, and everybody can find some sort of exercise that they feel comfortable doing!