man running on the treadmill

Hidden Benefits of Exercise You Probably Didn’t Know

Everyone has heard the saying “exercise is good for your body” at some point in their lives. The question is, has anyone actually bothered to understand how exactly the body benefits from exercising?

Many people think that the main product of regularly exercising is fit and good-looking physique. Commercials and movies have shown fictional characters change from fat kids to buffed-up male leads after a few weeks of exercise. While it’s definitely true that a consistent exercise routine can help you build those rock-hard abs as shown in the media, that’s not all exercising can do for you.

Exercise as a Set of Happy Pills

When you exercise, a series of chemical changes occur inside your body due to the increased blood flow and the creation of new neural pathways. The brain processes these changes and responds by letting out a particular set of hormones, each with a different effect on the body.

Endorphins belong to this set of hormones. Endorphins are excellent painkillers, giving the body a feeling of comfort and happiness that can override any pain or fatigue that you feel when you exercise. Due to endorphins, your brain is able to fool your body into thinking that it’s still perfectly capable of doing more exercises when the reality is, your body is too tired to even lift your arms up.

Another hormone that gets released when you exercise is dopamine. Dopamine can boost a person’s general mood, helping turn a sad day into a happy or at least agreeable one. When you exercise, the body increases its production of dopamine, which manifests itself by enhancing your current mindset. If you weren’t feeling motivated when you started exercising, once the dopamine kicks in, you’d feel more confident and comfortable with your body as you continue exercising. This increase in motivation can lead you to believe in yourself more and help you get the proper mindset to achieve your goals.

The body also produces testosterone during exercise, which is good for your metabolism and libido. People’s testosterone levels tend to drop as they age, and if it goes down considerably, you can have problems with depression and obesity. By exercising regularly, you can help raise your testosterone levels back up for a healthier body.

woman at the gym

Exercise Also Strengthens Muscles and Bones

Exercise isn’t all about losing weight and sculpting your body to emulate a Greek God (or Goddess, for that matter.) When you undergo strenuous physical activity, you build your muscles and strengthen your bones as your body tries to exert enough effort to complete the tasks. Your body releases hormones that make your muscles absorb amino acids better when you work out, and these acids are especially helpful in muscle growth.

As we grow older, the body starts to deteriorate, and the muscles weaken along with the bones. The bones are more prone to getting weaker with age since they lose mass over time, and the thinner and lighter your bones are, the harder it will be for them to support your movements.

Exercising can slow down the rate of muscle and bone deterioration by helping your body maintain strength and nourishment. This is why people who regularly exercise lead healthier lives during their senior years than those who don’t.

Exercise as a Sleep-Enhancer

Studies show that physical exercise can lead to better sleep. One case study subjected its patients to at least 150 minutes of exercise every week, resulting in a 65% improvement in the participants’ quality of sleep.

It’s easy to understand how someone who exercises a lot can get better sleep. By tiring yourself out during the day, the body automatically readies itself for recuperation, which leads to a night of good, long sleep. Then, in the morning, since you had quality rest, you feel energized again. It becomes a healthy exercise cycle because you end up using your newly-recharged energy to go through physical activities again.

Exercise is a lot more beneficial to the body than what most people know. It becomes even more helpful in these trying times, as keeping yourself healthy and fit should be your top priority during the pandemic. You might not have a lot of options due to the quarantine measures in place, but you don’t really need to visit the gym to burn a few calories. You can do house chores as a daily exercise to maintain physical activity. Simple tasks such as mopping the kitchen’s vinyl floors, dusting off the furniture around the house, and wiping off dirty surfaces in the kitchen or living room are more than enough to keep an active lifestyle.

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