We all know that exercise is good for us. If you exercise regularly you are likely to live longer and are less likely to have heart disease or a stroke. At Lime, we were surprised to find out that there’s more to exercise than meets the eye. Lucy Hussey, Lime’s Head of Communications, reviews the many benefits to getting up, getting out and moving your body. Even a brisk walk every day can make a difference - time to get off that sofa!
It may be hard to believe when you’re dragging yourself out of bed for an early morning run in the rain, but exercise has been proven to make us happier. In fact, it can help to combat depression and anxiety. There are several reasons for this, but a big part of it is down to the chemicals produced within our bodies when we exercise. Endorphins (which are actually similar to morphine) are strong natural painkillers that also give us a lovely feeling of happiness and wellbeing. On top of that, exercise helps our bodies to get rid of stress hormones like adrenaline, so it’s no wonder exercise can help you feel blissed out!
Believe it or not, there is a theory that exercise could make you more creative. Of course, you’re not likely to go for a run and suddenly become Picasso, but aerobic exercise (when you’re breathing harder) causes changes in your brain that are likely to improve your memory and your creativity. In particular, exercise enhances the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus – part of the brain associated with memory and also, according to new research, to our ability to imagine new situations – the foundation of creativity.
It sounds like something out of science fiction, but exercise can make you younger, well, sort of. Research published in the European Heart Journal suggests that regular, high-intensity exercise has an anti-aging effect on a cellular level. While this won’t make you suddenly look decades younger (although it won’t hurt), it’s good news for your health. Cellular aging plays an important role in heart and brain health, so it might just help you live longer!
It is thought that regular exercise helps us to fight off infection. That doesn’t mean you should exercise when you are feeling unwell, but rather if you exercise frequently you might get sick less often! It could be due to the fact that your body temperature rises slightly during exercise, which may kill off microorganisms that could make you ill. Exercise also causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells in your body, making them circulate more quickly – these are your body’s defence system so it could be that exercise helps them to detect harmful bugs more quickly! Research is still emerging, but it is probably worth giving it a go!
Exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow and promote more rapid healing. Even 20 minutes of walking can have a positive effect on your health. So, keeping up some sort of exercise routine could be the key to get you back to fighting fit as soon as possible (as long as you can safely do so and check first with your doctor, of course).
N.B. Remember to get advice from your doctor before starting a new exercise regime, particularly if you have any health issues. Please note, this article is not intended to be taken as medical advice.