Benefits of Exercise

Body & Mind

Author/Editor: Jennifer J. Lacelle
August 10, 2021

We all know exercise is good for our bodies, but what happens internally when we get our hearts pumping? How about when we stop exercising regularly? How does it affect our mood?

Recommending Regular Exercise

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical professionals, physiotherapists, personal trainers, naturopaths and nutritionists can at least agree on one thing: exercise is important for the human body.

The CDC says that regular exercise is an important aspect in maintaining your health. This becomes especially important during times like a world-wide pandemic (COVID-19) when there are fewer opportunities to take classes or attend gyms.

They list two main types of benefits, immediate and long-term. In the first category one might find they are sleeping better, have reduced anxiety and lowered blood pressure. For the long-term, which is a goal to strive toward, there is brain health, cancer prevention, bone strength, balance and coordination, heart health and weight management.

It’s also beginning to surface in research that regular exercise assists with boosting the human immune system.

Immediate Benefits

As previously mentioned, you can see and feel immediate benefits to exercise. If you’re diabetic, you might find it helps you with the conditions as exercising uses glucose for energy. Insulin is created inside the body as a means of controlling that glucose. That means it helps to regulate the sugars in the human body.

Your metabolism also increased when you exercise and it begins within a few minutes of your workout. Essentially, when your heart rate goes up your body releases neurochemicals that help with your metabolism speed, which is caused by the increase of circulation. This power house of a body will continue helping your metabolism even after you’re done exercising.

You’re also going to gain more energy the more you exercise. Yes, that sounds opposite of how you might feel in the moment. It’s because of the increase of blood flow. When you get more oxygen and nutrients pumping through the body it’s more likely to leave you alert throughout the day.

Physical Long-Term Benefits

We’re going to step back into weight here because many people exercise to lose weight. Regular exercise can help the body lose, or maintain, fat in the body because it’s burning calories. The more intense the workout the more calories you go through. People between 26-50 are recommended to eat 2,000 calories per day to maintain weight. If you’re over 50, it’s suggested reducing that to 1,800 calories a day provided you’re still somewhat active. If you go into a calorie deficit you are more likely to lose weight.

However, it’s important to continue eating with nutrient-dense foods otherwise you might feel hungry and revert back to your old eating ways, which won’t help if you want to lose weight. One of the top things you can do is increase your protein intake. Not only does protein increase your metabolic rate, but it fills you up faster, meaning you’ll want to eat less.

For the vegans and vegetarians, you can find protein powders that are made purely from vegetables, fruits and minerals.

Exercise becomes increasingly important as we age because the body deteriorates, more or less. It the older population, it can help increase bone, joint and muscle strength which in turn helps prevents falls, assists with arthritis, and decreases cardiovascular disease.

It’s also helpful to some prevention of certain cancers, like esophagus, lung, stomach, bladder, breast, kidney, endometrium, or colon. During research, it was discovered that regular exercise lowered the risk in a few types by nearly 20 per cent.

Mental Benefits

To an extent, physical activity can assist with both anxiety and depression. How? Not only does exercise simply step up your confidence game, but it also improves your brain function. It’s also a great stress reliever to exercise.

It’s been shown in studies that depression can be reduced by approximately 26 per cent through regular, continuous exercise. It can also be as helpful as medication in terms of mild depression. This is because it actually reduces inflammation, increase endorphins, and promotes actual brain change such as pathways and neural growth.

Stress and anxiety riddle society, but exercise is a great antidote. Those endorphins that get released during exercise promote a sense of happiness. It can also assist blocking those pestering, nagging thoughts that can cause anxiety while you workout.

People who have PTSD or trauma can also highly benefit from regular fitness. By allowing your body to loosen up and go with the flow of whatever exercise you choose, your body’s nervous system relaxes a little bit and allows your body to untense.

Because the brain is developing new neural pathways during exercise, those with dementia are able to benefit from fitness as well. It actually increases the size of the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory. In a study of 716 people near the age of 82, the lowest 10 per cent (those who didn’t participate in physical activity daily) were twice as likely to develop dementia than the top 10 per cent who did exercise daily.

There are other risk factors when it comes to Alzheimer’s as well, such as obesity and depression. As shown above, exercise assists with both of these components.

Long story short, exercise is essential to living a longer, healthier life. But what kind of exercises are best deployed?


It’s strongly suggested that physical exercise is done for 30-60 minutes several times a week. It’s doesn’t need to be intense, but it should increase your heart rate somewhat.

Walking is one of the top-rated exercises you can do to help your body. It will get your heart pumping, increasing circulation, and burn calories rather quickly. Of course, if you’re newer to getting active, don’t just decide to do a full hour. Start with a 10–15-minute stroll until you’re used to it and then bump it up a few more minutes.

Then there’s interval training, sometimes called HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or Tabata. These tend to be geared toward those who already have a moderate to high level of activity in their lives. Essentially, you have an intense workout and then break for 1-2 minutes before returning to a high intensity exercise for a few minutes.

In Tabata, for example, you can complete five rounds of 30-seconds punching a bag followed by 30 seconds of push-ups before taking a 1–2-minute break and moving to a different activity following the same format.

According to Harvard University, swimming is another great example of physical fitness. This is particularly useful for older folks, people with joint or mobility issues, or arthritis. If you take water aerobic classes, you may find yourself burning even more calories.

Tai Chi is also highly recommended. Not only are the slow, smooth motions of the art going to develop and build some muscle, but it will relax you like meditation. It also helps the practitioner learn balance, is will help prevent falls as we get older.

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