You undoubtedly have a hunch that exercise is beneficial to your health, and you’ve probably heard that it’s “heart-healthy.” But, if you’re like most people, it isn’t enough to motivate you to work up a sweat on a daily basis. Only 20% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activity per week, more than half of all baby boomers report doing no exercise at all, and 80.2 million Americans over the age of 6 are completely inactive, according to my TIME cover storey “The Exercise Cure.”
That’s terrible news, but recent research indicates that there are several compelling reasons to begin moving at any age, even if you’re sick or pregnant. Scientists are discovering that exercise is, in fact, medicine. Claude Bouchard, head of the human genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, states, “There is no drug that comes near to what exercise can accomplish.” “And even if there was, it would be prohibitively costly.”
For more information, read the entire tale, but here are some of the incredible things that may happen to a moving body.
1. Physical activity is beneficial to the brain.
It has been associated to reduced sadness, improved memory, and faster learning. Exercise appears to be the greatest approach to prevent or delay the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a big concern for many Americans. Scientists aren’t sure why exercise alters the structure and function of the brain, but it’s a hot topic of study. Thanks to the protein BDNF, they’ve discovered that exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, feeding the formation of new blood vessels and even new brain cells (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF promotes the creation of new neurons and aids in the repair and protection of brain cells. According to recent study, it may also help individuals focus.
2. You may get happy.
Numerous studies have shown that various forms of exercise, ranging from walking to cycling, improve people’s moods and can even alleviate depressive symptoms. Serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, and dopamine are brain chemicals that decrease pain, brighten mood, and reduce tension when you exercise. “For years, we’ve been almost entirely focused on the physical advantages of exercise, ignoring the psychological and emotional benefits of being physically active on a regular basis,” says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise.
3. It may cause you to age more slowly.
Exercise has been demonstrated to increase life expectancy by up to five years. According to a modest new research, moderate-intensity exercise may help cells age more slowly. Humans’ telomeres—the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes—get shorter as they age and their cells cycle repeatedly. Researchers obtained a muscle biopsy and blood samples from 10 healthy adults before and after a 45-minute ride on a stationary bicycle to determine how exercise impacts telomeres. Exercise raised levels of a chemical that preserves telomeres, reducing the rate at which they shorten over time, according to the researchers. As a result, exercise appears to halt the ageing process at the cellular level.
4. It will improve the appearance of your skin.
Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the skin, supplying oxygen and nutrients that assist skin health and wound healing. “That’s why, when patients have injuries, they should begin exercising as soon as possible—not only to keep the muscle from atrophying, but also to keep the blood flowing to the skin,” Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explains. If you exercise for long enough, your skin will develop more blood vessels and microscopic capillaries.
The skin also acts as a heat release point. (For further information, see “Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Exercise?”) When you exercise, your muscles produce a lot of heat, which you must release into the environment to keep your body temperature from rising too high, according to Hackney. The heat in the muscle is transferred to the blood, which then transports it to the skin, where it may be expelled into the atmosphere.
5. Incredible things may happen in a matter of minutes.
According to new studies, it doesn’t take much activity to get the advantages. “The topic of ‘How low can you go?’ has piqued our curiosity.” Martin Gibala, a professor of exercise physiology at McMaster University in Ontario, agrees. He wanted to see how successful a 10-minute workout was compared to a traditional 50-minute routine. Three rigorous 20-second bursts of all-out, as-hard-as-you-can exertion are followed by brief recoveries in his micro-workout. He compared the brief workout to the usual programme over the course of three months to discover which was superior. Even though one activity was five times longer than the other, the workouts resulted in equal improvements in heart function and blood sugar management. “You can get away with remarkably little exercise if you’re willing and able to push hard,” Gibala adds.