The Top 10 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Regular exercise has been shown to help boost energy levels and enhance your mood. It may also be associated with many other health benefits, including a reduced risk of chronic disease.

Exercise is defined as any movement that makes your muscles work and requires your body to burn calories.

There are many types of physical activity, including swimming, running, and walking, to name a few.

Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It may even help you live longer.

Here are the top 10 ways regular exercise benefits your body and brain.

1. Exercise can make you feel happier

Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.

The authors of a 2019 review found that 10–30 minutes of exercise is enough to improve your mood.

Exercise may increase brain sensitivity to serotonin and norepinephrine. These hormones relieve feelings of depression. It may also increase the production of endorphins, which help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.

Stopping to exercise may also affect your mood. A 2017 review found that active people who stopped exercising regularly experienced significant increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety, even after only a few weeks.

2. Exercise can help with weight management

Inactivity may play a major factor in weight gain and obesity, which may lead to health complications. Exercise can help you manage your weight by helping with energy expenditure, also known as spending.

Your body spends energy in three ways:

  • digesting food
  • exercising
  • maintaining body functions, like your heartbeat and breathing

A reduced calorie intake may lower your metabolic rate, which can temporarily delay weight loss. However, regular exercise may increase your metabolic rate. This can burn more calories and help you manage your weight.

Combining aerobic exercise with resistance training may also maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance. This could help you manage weight, maintain lean muscle, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. Exercise is good for your muscles and bones

Exercise plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.

As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass, strength, and function. This leads to an increased risk of injury. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age.

Exercise also helps build bone density. The authors of a 2022 review found that regular exercise significantly improved bone density in the lumbar spine, neck, and hip bones. This may help prevent osteoporosis later in life.

Impact exercises like gymnastics, running, or soccer may help promote higher bone density than no-impact sports like swimming and cycling.

4. Exercise can increase your energy levels

Exercise can help boost your energy levels while helping to reduce fatigue. This may help as a treatment method if you have certain health conditions, such as cancer.

Aerobic exercise boosts your cardiovascular system and improves lung health, which may help with energy levels.

Your heart pumps more blood as you move, delivering more oxygen to your working muscles. With regular exercise, your heart becomes more efficient at moving oxygen into your blood.

Over time, exercise results in less demand on your lungs. This is one of the reasons why you may find yourself getting less and less out of breath during exercise, according to the American Lung Association.

5. Exercise can reduce your risk of chronic disease

Regular physical activity is a key factor in reducing your risk of chronic diseases, such as:

6. Exercise can help skin health

Your skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body.

Oxidative stress occurs when your body’s antioxidant defenses cannot completely repair the cell damage caused by compounds known as free radicals. This can damage the structure of the cells and negatively impact your skin.

Intense and exhaustive physical activity may contribute to oxidative damage. However, a 2018 review suggests that regular moderate exercise may actually help alleviate the stress caused by free radicals.

The authors of a 2021 review concluded that regular exercise may help delay the appearance of skin aging, prevent psoriasis, and improve venous leg ulcers.

7. Exercise can help your brain health and memory

Exercise can improve brain function and protect your memory and thinking skills.

To begin with, exercise increases your heart rate. This promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. It can also stimulate the production of hormones that enhance the growth of brain cells.

For example, exercise has been shown to cause the hippocampus to grow in size, which may help improve mental function. This is part of the brain that’s vital for memory and learning.

Regular physical activity is important in older adults because it can help slow down the physiological effects of aging in your brain. It may also help reduce changes in the brain that can contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

8. Exercise can help with relaxation and sleep quality

Regular exercise can help you relax and sleep better.

It may help improve your sleep quality because the energy loss that occurs during exercise stimulates restorative processes during sleep.

Also, the increase in your body temperature during exercise may help it drop during sleep, which could promote better sleep.

A 2018 study conducted over 4 months in people with chronic insomnia found that both stretching and resistance exercise helped improve sleep quality and duration while decreasing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

9. Exercise can reduce pain

Chronic pain can be debilitating. For many years, the recommendation for treating chronic pain was rest and inactivity.

However, the authors of a 2021 review suggest that aerobic exercise may serve as a natural treatment option to provide pain relief and improve quality of life.

One way that exercise may help prevent or reduce chronic pain is because it increases your pain tolerance over time.

Exercise may also help you control pain associated with various health conditions, including:

  • chronic low back pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic soft tissue shoulder disorder

10. Exercise can promote a better sex life

Regular exercise may help improve your sex life.

For example, engaging in regular exercise can strengthen your heart, improve blood circulation, tone muscles, and enhance flexibility, all of which may help improve your sex life.

A 2018 review of 10 studies found that exercising for at least 160 minutes per week over a 6-month period could help improve erectile function in males.

Another 2018 review suggests that regular exercise may help improve sexual satisfaction, arousal, and well-being in females. Regular resistance training may also help increase sex drive.

Which exercise can you do every day?

It’s important to let your body recover between intense resistance and cardiovascular exercise sessions. That said, there are some less intense exercises you can do every day to help you get to 300 minutes per week. These may include walking, cycling, dancing, and skateboarding.

What exercises are good for belly fat?

According to the British Heart Foundation, you can’t target one specific area of fat to burn off. But, a consistent mixture of aerobic exercise, resistance training, and eating a well-balanced diet can help you burn fat all over your body. Some exercises include swimming, yoga, running, strength training, and rock climbing.

Exercise offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health. Regular physical activity can increase the production of hormones that make you feel happier and help you sleep better.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends you aim for 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity throughout the week.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is anything that gets your heart beating faster, like walking, cycling, or swimming. Activities like running or participating in a fitness class count for vigorous intensity.

You can use weights, resistance bands, or your body weight to perform muscle-strengthening exercises.


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