We’ve all heard or read something about the health benefits of exercise. But usually, this vague idea is not enough to motivate us to regularly do morning exercises, go for a run, or go to the gym.
For example, among Americans, only 20% devote at least 150 minutes a week to physical activity, which is in line with WHO recommendations for adults. More than half of the baby boomers born in the postwar boom admit they never exercise. Overall, 80.2 million Americans over the age of six are sedentary.
Meanwhile, science is developing new arguments for an active lifestyle for all groups of the population, including pregnant women and those with chronic diseases. Moreover, studies show that it is never too late to start practicing.
Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s.
Essentially, physical activity is a kind of medicine. “There is no pill that matches exercise in its capabilities,” says Claude Bouchard, head of the human genome laboratory at the Biomedical Research Center in Pennington. “And if such a pill existed, it would cost a lot of money.”
Here are some of the benefits of exercise that not everyone has heard of.
1. Good for the brain
Exercise improves memory, cognition, and concentration. In addition, the available evidence suggests that exercise is one of the best ways to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s.
2. Improve the state of mind
A variety of physical activities, from walking to cycling, can help you feel better and can ease symptoms of depression. They promote the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine – hormones that soothe pain, improve mood and relieve stress.
3. Slow down aging
Regular exercise can prolong life by up to five years. Even moderate-intensity exercise slows aging by acting on telomeres, the endpoints of chromosomes that have protective functions on the chromosome, according to a study in Belgium. With age, telomeres shorten, which becomes one of the reasons for the aging of the body. Exercise inhibits this process – and thus aging – at the cellular level.
4. Improve skin condition
Aerobic exercise induces blood flow to the skin, supplying it with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Due to this, various skin lesions heal better.
5. Effective even if you only exercise for a few minutes
Martin Jybala, a sports physiologist at McMaster University in Canada, decided to compare the effectiveness of an intense 10-minute exercise with a standard 50-minute exercise routine. For his experiment, he developed a micro-complex consisting of 20-second exercises that must be performed with maximum stress, taking rest breaks in between.
An experiment lasting three months showed that these short exercises were as effective as exercises that lasted five times longer. They likewise improved heart function and normalized blood sugar levels.
6. Helps with chronic diseases
Until recently, it was believed that in many serious diseases, physical activity is contraindicated. But modern research shows that this approach is far from always fair. Exercise, including intense exercise like those developed by Martin Jybala, can be very beneficial for patients with a variety of chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart failure.