Physical activity is key for a healthier and happier life - the more you do, the better. Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems it’s no longer a surprise that exercise is good for us, but there are still some health benefits which may not be as obvious.
Here are some fewer known ways in which regular exercise could help improve or maintain our health:
Exercise could help reduce the risk of dementia
Alzheimer’s Society says that doing regular physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce our risk of dementia. It’s good for the heart, circulation, weight and mental wellbeing.
Several studies looking at the effect of aerobic exercise in middle-aged or older adults have reported improvements in thinking and memory and reduced rates of dementia.
Exercise may help with depression
Exercise has been shown to improve our mood by increasing the production of endorphins, which are linked to positive feelings. The NHS recommends exercise for people with mild to moderate depression as a mood booster.
Mind points out that exercise is beneficial for our mental health as it promotes better sleep, happier moods and may even improve our self-esteem. Physical activity can help us manage stress or anxiety by giving our brains something to focus on and by releasing the stress managing hormone called cortisol.
Exercise may also increase brain sensitivity to serotonin and norepinephrine, the hormones that help relieve feelings of depression.
Exercise could improve symptoms of arthritis
Versus Arthritis says that exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve your symptoms. Being active could help keep your joints supple, reduce pain and strengthen bones and muscles. They recommend low-impact exercises (such as swimming or cycling) for people with all types of arthritis as they put less impact on the joints.
Exercise may be beneficial for people with diabetes
Diabetes UK encourages people with diabetes to exercise regularly for better blood sugar control and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The NHS states that physical activity affects our blood glucose levels. Depending on the exercise we do, it could cause our levels to rise or drop. Moderate exercise that lasts a while, like cycling, could cause a slow drop in glucose levels, whereas football might cause levels to rise. NHS recommends eating the right amount of carbs before, during and after exercise to avoid hypos and that insulin levels should be adjusted, and blood glucose checked regularly.
To stay healthy, the NHS recommends we try to be active every day and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week. Exercise offers incredible benefits that could improve nearly every aspect of our health from the inside out. The effects often become more prominent when they’re part of a healthy lifestyle. The issues mentioned above are complex, and exercise is just one aspect that may need to be altered in order to see positive effects.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.