With more than a third of Americans classified as obese, everyone from first lady Michelle Obama to TV news anchor Katie Couric is advocating exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
“That’s great,” says Dr. Eudene Harry, author of Live Younger in 8 Simple Steps, “but the benefits of exercise go far beyond fitting into those skinny jeans.”
Here are five hidden benefits of a good workout:
Younger looking, more blemish-free skin The increase in circulation and perspiration that occurs with exercise delivers more nutrients to your skin while allowing impurities and waste to be removed. The result—a healthier complexion!
Natural “feel-good” chemicals Exercise releases endorphins, the brain chemicals that boost your mood and make you feel happy, as well as relieve stress, and enhance your self-esteem and self-confidence. Exercise has also been shown to increase neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which gives us a natural high and allows us to sleep better.
Constipation prevention Exercise increases the contractions of the wall of the intestines, helping to move things along through the intestinal tract more easily, and decreasing the time it takes to pass through the large intestine. But wait an hour or two after eating before exerting yourself: Exercising too soon after a meal can divert blood flow away from the gut and toward the muscles and slow down the digestion process.
Prevents brittle bones Walking, jogging, dancing, Pilates and yoga are all weight-bearing exercises that help strengthen bones. During weight-bearing exercises, bones adapt to the impact of the weight and the pull of muscles by building more bone cells, increasing strength and density and decreasing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
Enhanced immunity Physical exertion increases the rate at which antibodies flow through the blood stream, resulting in better immunity against sickness. The increased temperature generated during moderate exercise makes it difficult for certain infectious organisms to survive.
Dr. Eudene Harry holds a bachelor’s in biology from New York University and completed both her medical degree and residency training at Thomas Jefferson University. She has practiced medicine for nearly 20 years, is board certified in both emergency and holistic medicine (www.LivingHealthyLookingYounger.com).