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10 Ways Exercise Helps Your Mental and Physical Health

It’s a widely known fact that regular exercise is good for the body. The health benefits of exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability. Research shows that exercise can help reduce the risk for a broad range of diseases and improve your overall quality of life.

However, exercise is not only about improving your physical health, exercising can have a profoundly positive effect on your mental health as well. Scientists have long pondered how exercise can boost brain function and overall mood. So get motivated to exercise by reading these 10 ways that working out can lead to a healthier and happier life.

  1. High blood pressure

Exercising regularly can lead to a reduced blood pressure in those people suffering from high blood pressure levels. Physical activity, for at least 30 minutes a day, can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Those who have slightly high blood pressure won’t develop full-blown hypertension. Those who already have hypertension, exercising can bring their blood pressure down to less dangerous levels. The most beneficial exercises for high blood pressure include walking, cycling, jogging, dancing, and swimming.

2. Obesity

Obesity is the result of too many calories coming in, and too few being burned. Weight gain during adulthood can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Physical activity can help reduce body fat by preserving muscle mass and improving the body’s ability to use calories. Physical activity can also decrease fat around the waist and total body fat, slowing down the development of abdominal obesity. Combined with a lower calorie eating plan, it can promote weight loss and overall well-being. The more extreme the activity, the more calories you burn.

3. Heart Disease

Heart disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death in the United States. That’s why medical professionals advise on getting 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity. Daily exercise can help prevent heart disease by strengthening heart muscle, lowering blood pressure, raising your good cholesterol levels, and increasing your heart’s working capacity. The best exercises include walking, jogging, skiing, skating, and dancing.

4. Type 2 diabetes

Physical activity is highly recommended for people with type 2 diabetes. Combined with a healthy meal plan and medications, you’ll be able to better control the disease and keep your blood glucose level in the correct range. Regular exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood since muscles can use glucose without insulin when you’re exercising. Your muscles get the glucose they need and your blood glucose level goes down. Moreover, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day can help people with type 2 diabetes avoid long-term complications, especially heart problems.

5. Osteoporosis

When you exercise, you don’t just build muscle but you also maintain the amount and thickness of your bones. For that reason, exercise is beneficial for people struggling with osteoporosis. By regularly exercising, you can strengthen your bones and maintain the bone mass you have. A few examples of exercise for osteoporosis are walking, hiking, dancing, stair climbing, water exercises, weight lifting, yoga, and T’ai chi.

6. Self-esteem

Looking good, feeling strong and having a positive attitude, the attributes of self-esteem, are all benefits of a regular exercise regime. Just the success of creating an exercise plan and sticking to it allows you to enjoy a sense of achievement. Regularly exercising is good for your body and mind, as fitness and appearance improve. Many experts suggest exercising for 20 to 30 minutes every day, picking an activity you enjoy, and mixing classes, sports and exercise with friends to keep things interesting. An even added psychological boost can be exercising outdoors, rather than working on the elliptical indoors.

7. Anxiety

Some studies show that exercise can work quickly to lower anxiety levels in many people. There is enough evidence available to say that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. Regular exercise works as well as medication as it can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting. Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins that can enhance your sense of well-being and by taking your mind off worries so that you can get away from your negative thinking pattern.

8. Memory

Exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Physical exercise stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new connections between cells in a wide array of important cortical areas of the brain.

9. Addiction

The brain releases dopamine in response to both exercise and drugs or alcohol. That’s why regular exercise can help in addiction recovery. During exercise, endorphins and other naturally released substances can create a safe and natural high. Exercise sessions can distract addicts, help them reduce their cravings, and increase their sleep hours. Committing to completing some physical activity every week keeps the mind off using drugs since the addict has no time to think about the next fix. If you’re trying to break free from an addiction, get out and move a little.

10. Creativity

The more scientists look at exercise, the more benefits they find. In addition to its stress-reducing, mind-focusing, and memory-enhancing properties, there is enough evidence to support the idea that exercise could make us more creative. We know that exercise, especially aerobic workouts, encourage the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus that improve our memory. Research now shows that the exercise-induced brain changes that may be responsible for improving memory might improve the imagination as well. This growth in the hippocampus could be good for creativity too, since the ability to imagine the future and to think creatively also depends on this region.

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