What are the physical and mental benefits of exercise?
Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits
What are the mental and physical health benefits of exercise?
Exercise benefits both mental health and physical health. Indeed, the National Institute on Aging say studies show that “taking it easy” is risky.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source say that “Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health,” and everyone can benefit.
Back in 1953, a pioneering epidemiological study in The Lancet showed that rates of coronary heart disease were lower among physically active London bus conductors than among less active bus drivers.
According to a recent review Trusted Source, since that early report, researchers have linked physical inactivity with more than 40 chronic conditions.
This article looks at some specific benefits of regular exercise for mental and physical health.
1. Improves cardiovascular health
Regular exercise is good for heart health. Possible benefits include:
- improving cholesterol levels
- lowering blood pressure
- reducing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease
- reducing the risk of stroke
Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is an important benefit of exercise.
A person can begin experiencing the benefits of regular exercise right awayTrusted Source, though the CDCTrusted Source recommend that adults perform 150 minutes a week of at least moderate intensity activity.
The benefits continue to increase as people are more active than this.
2. Helps with diabetes management
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), different types of exercise can benefit people with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes by:
- improving control of blood glucose
- reducing cardiovascular risk factors
- helping with weight loss
- helping with general well-being
- delaying or preventing the development of type 2 diabetes
Exercise can also benefit people with type 1 diabetes by:
- improving cardiovascular fitness
- strengthening muscles
- improving insulin sensitivity
The ADA say, “Physical activity and exercise should be recommended and prescribed to all individuals with diabetes as part of management of glycemic control and overall health.”
3. Reduces risk of some cancers
The National Cancer Institute say there is “strong evidence that higher levels of physical activity are linked to lower risk” of the following cancers:
- uterine (endometrial)
For example, a 2016 analysis of 26 breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer studies found a 37% reduction in cancer-specific mortality when comparing the most active patients with the least active.
There may also be a link between physical activity and reduced risk of other cancers, but the evidence is less clear.
4. Improves mental health and mood
Physical activity can help reduce anxiety, and this benefit can start right afterTrusted Source a moderate or vigorous exercise session.
Longer term, regular exercise can also help reduce the risk of depression.
5. Improves bone health
Regular exercise can help prevent the bone density loss that occurs with aging, say the CDCTrusted Source.
Moderate or vigorous muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercise, as well as bone-strengthening programs, can all helpTrusted Source.
Real benefits to bone density begin with only about 90 minutesTrusted Source of exercise a week.
Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking and dancing, and resistance exercises are particularly good for bone health.