February 12, 2018

Exercise Really is Medicine


The new year has come, and with it has come new resolutions of living healthy - more specifically eating healthy and exercising. Its not bad to have these ambitious thoughts, but let’s be honest, most people that wait until January 1st to start exercising only last a couple of months. They soon realize that exercising on a regular basis can be difficult. It can be hard to fit it into a daily schedule. You’re too tired after a long day at work. Or you don’t want to exercise because you were really sore after your last session. All these excuses seem more important than why you originally got into exercise in the first place. You probably had a goal in mind to lose weight, gain muscle, and to get into better shape. It takes a long time (usually 8-10 weeks) of moderate to intense exercise before you will notice any physical changes to your body. That’s just what you see on the outside. However, there is a lot going on inside your body that you are probably not aware of. Exercise has way more benefits besides just looking better. In this blog, I hope to highlight some of the other health benefits that come with regular exercise.

Decreased Pain

A lot of the pain that we sometimes feel is due to muscle inefficiency. Certain loads are placed on the muscles, and if they are not strong enough to handle the load, they can become sore. Exercise can help strengthen the muscles so that they will be able to handle more demands in the activities of daily living, and thus reduce the pain you may be experiencing. Exercise also helps with blood flow and circulation in the body, which can also aid in decreasing pain.

Increased Range of Motion

Exercise is not limited to lifting weights and running until you are exhausted. A big part of exercise is taking the time to stretch. This keeps your muscles nice and loose. Increasing your flexibility also allows your joints to go through their proper range of motion. Stiff joints can later lead to pain, so take the time to stretch everyday to maintain full and pain free range of motion.

Improved Sleep

Studies show that regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Exercise can reduce stress and tire you out, which will result in a better sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to your scheduled bed time, as you may be overstimulated from the workout.

Improved Brain Function

Exercise benefits the brain in many different ways. For starters, having an increased heart rate pumps more oxygen to the brain. Exercise also stimulates new neuronal connections. Studies have also shown that exercise can have an antidepressant-like effect by causing a drop in stress hormones. This antidepressant effect is also associated with cell growth in the hippocampus, which is important for memory and learning.

Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease

Regular exercise can assist in preventing a variety of health problems, including stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, depression, osteoporosis and arthritis. Being active boosts high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol) and decreases unhealthy triglycerides (bad cholesterol). This keeps your blood flowing smoothly and decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Improved Mood

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that will leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance when you exercise, which can boost your confidence and self-esteem.

As you can see, exercise has a variety of health benefits besides being able to help with weight loss or increasing strength. Exercise really is medicine. It can help with both physical, mental, and emotional health. It can also help with your social health if you want to work out with a friend or in groups. It is something that everyone can, and should be doing. When you incorporate at least 150 hours of moderate to intense exercise every week, you will notice the health benefits and you will feel better.

Dr. Drew