Exercise does more than help you get into shape. It can also help you fight serious mental and physical health issues. Here are some examples from our friend, Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.
If you’re stressed and anxious, lace up your sneakers and go for a run. Studies show that cardio training increases the production of mood-stabilizing serotonin. In fact, one study found that 30 minutes of jogging makes us more resilient against stress for several hours.
Also, if you exercise – you can save money on energy drinks. Because exercise fights off daytime sluggishness. An Oregon State University study found that people who exercised 2 hours a week were 65-percent more likely to feel alert during the day. That’s because exercise floods the brain with the neuro-transmitter dopamine – which gives us a mental and physical boost.
But exercise also helps us sleep better, too. The same Oregon State study found that exercisers fall asleep faster, suffer fewer middle-of-the-night wake-ups and have a reduced risk of sleep disorders. That’s because exercise helps regulate our internal temperature. We need it to be higher during the day, to keep us awake. And we need it to naturally dip at night so our sleep hormone, melatonin, will kick in. And exercise accomplishes.
Exercise can also eliminate food cravings. When we want ice cream or chips, our brain is craving a burst of feel-good dopamine. And experts say instead of going on a junk food binge, we can get our dopamine fix by exercising. In fact, one study found that a 10-minute walk is enough to satisfy our brain’s craving for that pleasure chemical.
Lastly, exercise beefs up our immune system. Research shows that workouts are great cold-fighters, because they trigger immune cells to move into our bloodstream, where they’re ready and waiting to attack invading viruses and bacteria.