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4 Less Obvious Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

19/02/2016 | By Freedom Health Insurance
The fact that regular exercise is good for you is no longer a surprise for most people, nevertheless there are still health benefits of regular physical activities out there which might not be that obvious to many. We’ve found the facts, proven by scientists, which explain some of the less known ways in which regular exercise can help to improve or maintain your health.

1. It could help to reduce the risk of dementia, and benefit people who have dementia

One study that spanned 30 years (1) found that a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise, non-smoking and a low/moderate alcohol intake, could help to reduce the risk of developing dementia and cognitive impairment by about 60% compared to those not having a healthy lifestyle.
The British Medical Journal’s review of several studies has furthermore determined that there is evidence on how physical exercise can benefit people who already have dementia, by improving their “cognitive functioning and ability to carry our everyday activities.” (2)

2. It may help to treat depression

You may have heard that a workout can release endorphins which lift your mood. Some scientists and experts believe that exercise can also be effective in treating depression.
The NHS points out that exercise can be beneficial in many ways, such as by reducing the risk of problems like obesity and cardiovascular disease through regular exercise, which could help patients who have depression (3).
A study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that aerobic exercise done on a regular basis, consistent with the public health recommendations, is an effective treatment for Major Depressive Disorder of mild to moderate severity (4).  The British Journal of Psychiatry adds to this by sharing the conclusion of another study who found that people who participate in regular leisure-time activity are less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression, which the journal linked to the social element of group exercising (5).

3. It can help to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, a condition which affects the joints, due to cartilage and underlying bone degeneration, can cause stiffness and pain (6). However, according to a study by JAMA Internal Medicine (7), an aerobic and resistance-based exercise programme could help to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee, suggesting that exercise should be prescribed as part of the treatment.

4. It can help to prevent diabetes

Diabetes causes can be influenced by a range of factors, including family history, ethnicity, health and environment (8). Nevertheless, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, regular exercise could help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by at least 30% (9).


While some of the findings listed here are still under debate by scientists, the research carried out so far has proved that regular exercise can have a positive impact on your health. However, the effects of physical exercise are often becoming more prominent when this is part of a healthy lifestyle.
An important point to remember is that the problems discussed above are complex, and exercise is just one aspect that may need to be altered in order to see positive effects.

Related Articles  
1. PLOS ONE. Healthy Lifestyles Reduce the Incidence of Chronic Diseases and Dementia: Evidence from the Caerphilly Cohort Study [Online] Available here.
2. THE BMJ. Evidence grows for benefits of exercise in dementia [Online] Available here.
3. NHS. Exercise questioned as depression treatment [Online] Available here.
4. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. Exercise Treatment for Depression Efficacy and Dose Response [Online] Available here
5. BJ PSYCH. Physical activity and common mental disorders [Online] Available here.
6. Arthritis Research UK. What is Osteoarthritis? [Online] Available here.
7. JAMA. A Randomized Trial Comparing Aerobic Exercise and Resistance Exercise With a Health Education Program in Older Adults With Knee Osteoarthritis [Online] Available here.
8. DIABETES.CO.UK. Causes of Diabetes [Online] Available here.
9. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE. It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet [Online] Available here