Nine Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

Sara Suchy | Apr 19th 2013

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We all know that regular exercise works wonders for physical health. But there are some benefits that go way beyond toned legs and a healthier heart.

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Softens the booze blow

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A study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental found that regular cardio workouts, such as biking, running or walking, could reduce and even reverse brain damage caused by drinking too much alcohol. People who exercised had significantly less alcohol-induced brain damage than people who didn’t.

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Cycling to stave off migraines

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A study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain found when people who suffered from chronic migraines participated in exercise involving indoor cycling, they experienced fewer migraines. Exercise improves oxygen uptake, or oxygen flow, in the brain. So, migraine sufferers often experience fewer migraines and a better overall quality of life.

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Grows brain cells

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Research from the Society for Neuroscience found that adult rats that were allowed to exercise regularly on a running wheel grew new brain cells and tested better on memory exercises than rats that did not run. The bad news is that the rats stopped growing brain cells at the advanced rate after they were not allowed to run for several weeks. So, it’s important to make exercise a long-term lifestyle commitment.

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Exercise makes you smarter

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A review of 111 studies published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that regular exercise helps children perform better academically and help both children and adults improve their ability to multi-task and plan by increasing the volume of brain structures associated with memory.

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Prevent Alzheimer’s disease

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One study in the journal Neurology found that routinely engaging in simple, but still physically engaging, tasks, such as mowing the lawn or sweeping and raking leaves can add up to enough physical activity to reduce a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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Boosts self control

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A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that several short bursts of physical activity throughout the day were able to significantly improve both impulse control and higher brain function in human research subjects.

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Reduced appetite

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A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that at least 45 minutes of vigorous activity actually reduces a person’s appetite immediately following a workout.

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Stress relief…all day long

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Many athletes cite a good workout as a way to ease a stressful situation. But a new study says those anxiety-thwarting effects can remain even after your heart rate returns to normal.

A study from researchers at the University of Maryland found that people who exercise are better able to withstand everyday stressors than people who simply took some quiet time to themselves.

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Live longer and prosper

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Regular exercise is shown to improve overall quality of life and increase life expectancy for so many reasons. A favorite example: a study from researchers in Copenhagen found that regular jogging boosts the life expectancy of men by 6.2 years and boosts the life expectancy of women by up to 5.6 years.