“The greatest wealth is health.” – Virgil
Most of us are aware of the staple benefits of consistent exercise. We’ve heard that it facilitates weight loss and muscle growth, helps prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes and reduces stress by increasing endorphins a.k.a those lovely “feel good hormones”. Beyond these benefits, there are many more – one might even say a veritable boatload – of reasons to exercise.
This week I’d like to share some lesser known, but just as significant exercise benefits that may have gone under the radar. Hop on board, some of these just might surprise you.
Increases the effectiveness of a flu shot – Whether you’re pro flu shot or not, an Iowa State University study found that those who jogged or rode bikes for 90 minutes after getting the flu shot had twice the antibody response a month later compared to those who didn’t. Exercise increases the immune response as well as helping to circulate the vaccine away from the injection site.
Reduces chances of erectile dysfunction –
If you’re giggling because I brought up erectile dysfunction, I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself. Eh-hem, let’s continue. A study completed by New England Research Institutes consisted of 1709 men and followed up with the majority of them an average of 8.8 years later to determine the effects of lifestyle on erectile dysfunction (ED). Results indicated that obesity and physical activity status was associated with ED with the highest risk pertaining to those who remained sedentary.
Eases fatigue for cancer patients during and after treatment –
Another study found that exercise significantly reduced cancer-related fatigue during and following cancer treatment, respectively. Of the 4881 cancer patients who participated in seventy studies, those with lower baseline fatigue scores and higher exercise adherence saw the largest improvements. Exercise offers much deserved relief to those in treatment and aids in healing and recuperation post-treatment.
Improves motor and social skills of people with autism –
A Netherlands study offered structured physical activities to 133 children and adults with various variants of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Data collected in 16 behavioral studies concluded that physical exercise has positive effects on two problem areas of people with ASD, specifically improving both motor and social skills
Helps prevent the majority of chronic diseases – One comprehensive 2012 publication outlined that physical activity prevents or delays the majority of chronic diseases (35 to be specific) thus increasing quality of life and longevity. Authors specifically state “The comprehensive evidence herein clearly establishes that lack of physical activity affects almost every cell, organ, and system in the body causing sedentary dysfunction and accelerated death.”
Helps you quit smoking – A series of 12 studies reported on the positive effects exercise had on cigarette cravings, withdrawn symptoms and smoking behavior. They found that cravings and withdrawal symptoms were reduced, with higher exercise intensity lasting 30-40 minutes, lower intensity lasting 15 minutes and isometric exercise lasting 5 minutes. Relatively small doses of exercise can be an important aid in quitting.
Helps you learn a new skill more proficiently – A University of Copenhagen study found that volunteers who had a vigorous 15 minute cycling workout right after learning a new computer skill retained it much better the following week than those who exercised beforehand or not at all.
Helps you make better decisions – A study published by British Journal of Sports Medicine found that kids and young adults who worked out for 10-40 minutes right before test-taking showed better concentration and self-control than those who didn’t. Results suggest that acute physical exercise enhances executive functioning
As if you didn’t have enough reasons to get moving…now you have a few more! Even if some of these don’t apply to you, share them with any loved ones that could benefit. There may not be a cure-all magic pill…but exercise comes pretty dang close.
Don’t forget to check out some of the awesome things happening at Honest this month! Sign up for our 1st Annual Halloween Fitness Fun Fest on October 27th AND our Yoga.Tea.Talk on October 29th! You won’t want to miss them!