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10 Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

Regular Exercise can boost hormone production, lower your risk of disease, and aid in weight loss. It will further enhance your bone and skin health, boost your sexual life, and help you live longer. Sedentary lifestyles are the key cause of serious health problems. If you don’t get enough exercise, you’re more likely to develop age-related muscle weakness. Regular exercise provides numerous health benefits, including:

1. Reduced risk of hypertension and improved cardiac function

Sedentary lifestyles are the key cause of many chronic diseases (1). Exercise can reduce your risk of a heart attack and high blood pressure. A more active lifestyle, especially if you can get in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most, if not all, days of the week, can significantly improve your heart health. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of hypertension and heart disease in several ways:

  1. Improve cardiac function: Exercise helps the heart pump blood more efficiently, reducing strain (2).
  2. Flexibility and blood flow: Regular exercise keeps arteries and blood vessels flexible, ensuring good blood flow and normal blood pressure (3).
  3. Reduced sedentary behavior: Inactivity is a risk factor for heart disease, and exercise counteracts this (4).
  4. Lower blood pressure: Regular physical activity may lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension (5).
  5. Improved lipid profiles: Exercise can increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease (6).

Regular exercise provides numerous benefits for the heart health, leading to a healthier and happier life. Consult with a healthcare professional for proper check-up. Exercise may worsen health condition in people living with cardiovascular diseases and it is not a replacement for medical treatment.

Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of hypertension and heart disease in healthy individuals.

2. Improved mental health and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety

Physical activities improve your mood and reduce the likelihood of depression, which can lead to brain changes that control stress and anxiety (7). Exercise can further enhance brain awareness of serotonin and norepinephrine hormones that reduce depression feelings (8). In addition, it can boost endorphins, which are believed to decrease body pain (8).

Study shows that intense workouts reduced symptoms of depression in women (9). Another study of 26 healthy individuals continued exercise for two weeks. Those who stopped exercising experienced an increase in symptoms (10). Exercise improves mental health and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety in several ways:

  1. Endorphins: Exercise releases natural mood-boosters called endorphins, which improve mood and reduce stress (8).
  2. Serotonin: Regular physical activity increases serotonin levels, helping to alleviate symptoms of depression (8).
  3. Distracts from negative thoughts: Exercise serves as a healthy distraction from negative thoughts and ruminations (11).
  4. Social connections: Exercising with others fosters social connections and support, combating loneliness (12).
  5. Self-efficacy: Regular physical activity enhances self-efficacy and confidence, helping to overcome feelings of helplessness (13).
  6. Reduces inflammation: Exercise has anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety (14).
  7. Increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF): Exercise increases BDNF, promoting neural growth and repair, which may help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety (15).

When you are depressed or anxious, exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do. However, once you get started and stick with it, exercise can have a significant impact. Remember, exercise is not a replacement for professional mental health treatment, but it can be a valuable complement to traditional therapies.

The links between depression, anxiety and exercise aren’t entirely clear. According to some studies, exercise helps prevent and improve mental health problems, including depression, anxiety.

3. Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and improved insulin sensitivity

Exercise reduces blood glucose levels and increases insulin sensitivity, hence counteracting insulin resistance (16). A lack of exercise can contribute to an increase in belly fat that can cause type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and premature death (17). Regular exercise can prevent these risks consistently (18). Exercise reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes in several ways:

  1. Improves insulin sensitivity: Regular physical activity helps the body’s cells respond better to insulin, reducing blood sugar levels (16).
  2. Increases glucose uptake: Exercise increases the body’s ability to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, lowering blood sugar levels (17).
  3. Reduces inflammation: Physical activity has anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce inflammation linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (18).
  4. Weight management: Exercise aids in maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risk of obesity-related type 2 diabetes (19).
  5. Improves pancreatic function: Regular physical activity may help improve the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes (20).
  6. Enhances muscle strength and endurance: Exercise increases muscle strength and endurance, improving the body’s ability to use insulin effectively (21).

Remember, exercise is a crucial component of preventing and managing type 2 diabetes, along with a balanced diet and other lifestyle modifications.

Regular exercise is an effective treatment technique for improving insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle and the liver, as well as the uptake and use of glucose by muscle.

4. Improved sleep quality and reduced symptoms of insomnia

You can relax and rest better after physical activity (22, 23). During exercise, energy is used to activate recovery processes (24). It can improve the quality of sleep by dropping the temperature after a physical workout (25). Various studies on sleep have produced the same results. One study found that a mild amount of exercise—150 minutes a week—can lead to an increase in sleep quality of 65% (26).

Another study shows that 16 weeks of exercise improved the quality of sleep and gave 17 people deeper and better sleep than the control group (27). In addition, it helped them feel more energetic during the day. It can also help older people who have problems with their sleep (28, 29). Both resistance and aerobic exercise can improve the quality of sleep in people with insomnia (30).

Exercise improves sleep quality in several ways:

  1. Regulates body temperature: Exercise helps regulate body temperature, which is important for sleep (25).
  2. Increases serotonin: Regular physical activity boosts serotonin levels, promoting relaxation and sleep (8).
  3. Reduces stress and anxiety: Exercise reduces stress and anxiety, making it easier to fall asleep (26).
  4. Improves sleep schedule: Regular exercise helps regulate sleep schedules and improves sleep duration (27).
  5. Increases melatonin: Exercise can increase melatonin levels, helping to induce sleep (31).
  6. Reduces symptoms of insomnia: Regular physical activity reduces symptoms of insomnia and improves overall sleep quality (30).
  7. Improves sleep efficiency: Exercise improves sleep efficiency, reducing time spent awake during the night (26).
  8. Reduces sleep disorders: Exercise reduces the risk of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome (32).

Remember, exercise is a natural sleep aid! Regular physical activity can help improve sleep quality and duration.

Exercise can lower stress, reset your daily clock, alleviate sleep disorder symptoms, and enhance the quality of your sleep.

5. Reduced risk of certain cancers, including breast and colon cancer

Regular exercise is beneficial for several reasons, one of which is to reduce your risk of developing cancer. According to the American Cancer Society’s Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention, increasing physical activity is linked to a lower risk of various types of cancer, including breast, prostate, colon, endometrial, and probably pancreatic cancer (33).

Regular exercise reduces the risk of certain cancers, including breast and colon cancer, in several ways:

  1. Reduces body fat: Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and reduce body fat, which is a risk factor for several cancers (34).
  2. Lowers sex hormones: Regular physical activity lowers estrogen levels in the blood, reducing the risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers (35).
  3. Improves insulin sensitivity: Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of colon and pancreatic cancers (36).
  4. Boosts immune system: Exercise improves immune function, helping the body fight off cancer cells (37).
  5. Reduces sedentary behavior: Regular physical activity reduces sitting time, a risk factor for colon and endometrial cancers (38).
  6. Reduces DNA damage: Physical activity reduces DNA damage, which can lead to cancer development (39).
  7. Improves hormone regulation: Exercise helps regulate hormones, including insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is linked to cancer risk (40).

Physical activity can help regulate several hormones that lead to cancer growth while also supporting a healthy immune system. For people who haven’t exercised in a while, it’s best to start cautiously and gradually increase their activity.

A research of 1.44 million adults published in the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered a link between regular physical activity and a lower risk of different diseases, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and endometrial cancer.

6. Improved bone health and increased density

Regular exercise plays a key role in the management of healthy bones (41). Weightlifting combined with an adequate amount of whey protein can strengthen your muscles and overall health (42). Exercise releases hormones that enhance your body’s ability to absorb amino acids. This encourages the muscles and the bones to grow (43, 44). When people get old, they lose both bone and muscle, which can lead to injuries (45).

Regular exercise improves bone and functional health in several ways:

  1. Increases bone density: Exercise, especially weight-bearing and resistance training, helps build and maintain bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures (46).
  2. Strengthens bones: Exercise stimulates bone growth and strengthening, making bones more resilient to stress and injury (47).
  3. Improves bone architecture: Regular exercise helps maintain or even improve bone structure and architecture, reducing the risk of bone fractures (47).
  4. Reduces bone loss: Exercise, especially in older adults, helps reduce bone loss and prevent age-related bone decline (48).
  5. Enhances bone flexibility: Regular exercise improves bone flexibility, reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis (46).
  6. Improves muscle-bone interaction: Exercise helps improve the interaction between muscles and bones, enhancing overall bone health (49).

Exercise is essential for establishing strong bones since bone is a living tissue that changes over time in response to the forces working on it.

When you exercise regularly, your bone adapts by growing stronger and denser. This bone strengthening necessitates proper diet, which includes proper calcium and vitamin D.

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Exercise can improve brain function by increasing the blood flow and oxygen to your brain. In addition, it can boost the growth of brain cells by stimulating hormones (50). Exercise can help prevent chronic disease because these conditions may influence your brain’s function (51, 52). The hippocampus is an important part of the brain used for memory and learning. Exercise can grow the size of the hippocampus and improve brain function in older people (53, 54).

Exercise improves cognitive function and reduces the risk of age-related cognitive decline in several ways:

  1. Boosts blood flow to the brain: Exercise increases blood flow, providing the brain with more oxygen and nutrients (55).
  2. Promotes neuroplasticity: Exercise stimulates the growth of new neurons and forms new connections between brain cells (56).
  3. Enhances cognitive flexibility: Regular physical activity improves the brain’s ability to switch between tasks and adapt to new information (57).
  4. Improves executive function: Exercise enhances executive function skills, such as planning, decision-making, and problem-solving (58).
  5. Reduces inflammation: Exercise has anti-inflammatory effects, reducing inflammation that can contribute to cognitive decline (59).
  6. Increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF): Exercise increases BDNF, a protein that promotes the growth and survival of brain cells (15).
  7. Supports hippocampal health: The hippocampus, crucial for memory and learning, is supported and even grows with regular exercise (53, 54).
  8. Reduces risk of age-related cognitive decline: Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other cognitive disorders (54).
  9. Improves sleep: Exercise improves sleep quality, essential for cognitive function and memory consolidation (26).
  10. Enhances overall brain health: Exercise has a comprehensive impact on brain health, leading to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of cognitive decline (50).

Remember, exercise is a powerful tool for maintaining healthy brain function and reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline!

In many studies, physical activity has been associated to better cognitive performance and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Improved skin health and enhanced collagen production

Your body may be affected by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when your defense system cannot recover from the damage caused by free radicals. This can damage your cells and make your skin worse. Although physical activity can contribute to lowering oxidative stress, it can also increase the production of essential antioxidants in your body, which protect your body’s cells (51, 52). Exercise can stimulate blood flow and lead to renewal of the skin cells, which protects the skin from damage (53).

Yes, exercise improves skin health in several ways:

  1. Increases blood flow: Exercise boosts blood flow, which helps nourish the skin and remove toxins (54).
  2. Enhances collagen production: Regular physical activity stimulates collagen production, improving skin elasticity and reducing wrinkles (55).
  3. Improves skin hydration: Exercise helps maintain skin hydration by increasing blood flow and promoting sweat gland function (56).
  4. Reduces inflammation: Exercise has anti-inflammatory effects, reducing inflammation that can lead to skin issues like acne and rosacea (57).
  5. Boosts antioxidant production: Exercise stimulates the production of antioxidants, which help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals (58).
  6. Improves skin tone and texture: Regular physical activity helps even out skin tone and improve skin texture (54).
  7. Reduces stress: Exercise reduces stress levels, which can help minimize stress-related skin issues like acne and eczema (59).
  8. Improves wound healing: Exercise enhances wound healing by increasing blood flow and promoting collagen synthesis (60).
  9. Delays skin aging: Regular physical activity can help delay skin aging by improving skin health and reducing oxidative stress (61).
  10. Glowing complexion: Exercise gives you a healthy, glowing complexion by increasing blood flow and promoting skin health (62).

Working out on the regular bases is beneficial to your skin because it increases blood flow and allows your body to function optimally. In reality, both exercise and sweating are beneficial to your skin since they help maintain it clean, moisturized, and healthy.

Regular exercise is a natural way and one of the most simple and efficient strategies to improve your skin health.

9. Increased energy and reduced fatigue symptoms

Exercise can prevent various medical disorders with positive energy (63, 64). In many studies, exercise has decreased chronic fatigue syndrome in healthy people (65, 66, 67). Exercises are more effective at fighting CFS than other therapies, such as relaxation and stretching.

Exercise increases energy levels in several ways:

  1. Boosts mitochondrial function: Exercise enhances the functioning of mitochondria, the energy-producing structures within cells (68).
  2. Increases ATP production: Regular physical activity stimulates the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary energy currency of the body (68).
  3. Improves cardiovascular function: Exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, allowing for more efficient oxygen delivery and energy production (69).
  4. Enhances muscle function: Regular exercise improves muscle strength and endurance, reducing fatigue and increasing energy (67).
  5. Increases epinephrine and norepinephrine: Exercise stimulates the release of these neurotransmitters, which play a role in energy and motivation (70)..
  6. Reduces fatigue: Exercise reduces fatigue and improves overall physical and mental functioning (65).
  7. Increases energy efficiency: Regular physical activity helps the body use energy more efficiently, reducing fatigue and increasing energy levels (65).

Remember, regular exercise is a natural energy booster! Exercise stimulates blood flow, which promotes oxygen circulation throughout the body, including our brain, and supports mitochondria energy production, allowing our bodies to work better, reducing overall fatigue and enhancing cognitive function.

Regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes raises hormone levels, leaving us feeling more energized both physically and psychologically.

10. Promotes a better sex life

Exercise can improve the blood circulation of the cardiovascular system and improve your sexual life. A group of 133 individuals between the ages of 18 and 50 had higher sexual function after adding physical activities to their daily routine (71). The study found a positive relationship between physical fitness and sexual health. One study in 41 men found a decrease in erectile dysfunction by 71% just by performing a daily walking routine (72).

Another study in 78 sedentary men shows that 60 minutes of walking a day improves sexual performance and satisfaction (73). A study has also shown that women who had polycystic ovary syndrome increased their sexual drive after 16 weeks of physical activity (74).

Exercise promotes a better sex life in several ways:

  1. Improves blood flow: Regular physical activity enhances blood flow to the genitals, increasing pleasure and arousal (71).
  2. Boosts libido: Exercise increases the production of sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, which regulate libido (72, 74).
  3. Enhances sexual function: Regular exercise improves sexual performance and reduces the risk of sexual dysfunction (72).
  4. Increases flexibility and strength: Exercise improves flexibility and strength, making sexual activity more comfortable and enjoyable (71).
  5. Reduces stress: Regular physical activity reduces stress, which can improve sexual desire and overall well-being (7).
  6. Improves body image: Exercise can enhance body image and self-esteem, leading to increased confidence in sexual relationships (73).
  7. Increases energy: Regular exercise increases energy levels, making it easier to engage in sexual activity (73).
  8. Supports hormone balance: Exercise helps regulate hormone balance in women, which is essential for healthy sexual function (75).

Remember, exercise is a natural way to boost your sex life! Regular exercise and being in shape can improve both your body image and sexual stamina. This means you’ll be more confident when having sexual activities with your spouse.

Exercise improves sexual function for a variety of reasons, including increased blood flow, increased strength and stamina, and elevated sex hormone levels, which may increase sex drive.

Conclusion

Inactivity can lead to an increase in belly fat, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. Exercise can boost brain function by increasing blood flow and oxygen levels. Furthermore, it helps boost energy levels in those suffering from chronic conditions, such as cancer. Exercise can boost your sexual life and your cardiovascular system’s blood circulation. Physical exercises can also boost your mood and lower your risk of depression. Before starting a new exercise, always consult with your doctor.

Naeem Durrani BSc
I am a retired pharmacist, nutritionist, and food system expert. My interests include medical research and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to transform their lives.

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