by Sally Whitaker
Exercising regularly provides an abundant supply of benefits. Slimming down, getting stronger, and sleeping better are just the beginning. Here are four more reasons to make time for regular exercise.
Regular exercise has been shown to stimulate the release of growth factors-- chemicals in the brain that have a positive effect on the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and the survival of new brain cells.
A 2014 Harvard Health article quoted Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School as saying “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions.” So, persistence really does pay off when it comes to cardiovascular exercise.
Keep Bugs at Bay
Moderate amounts of physical exercise increases white blood cells which can help to strengthen the immune system. Breathing heavier and harder during exercise may also help to clear the lungs of bacteria.
Even better, a study at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine found that it takes as little as 20 minutes to produce an anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting response in the body.
Improve Coordination and Concentration
The dance moves in Zumba, pretzel poses of yoga, and figuring out the maze of weight machines at the gym can feel confusing and often intimidating. But learning those new skills and refining them over time is shown to increase your coordination, concentration, and even memory.
A University of Copenhagen study found that exercise boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that helps "cement" memories.
Aerobic and mind-body exercises help build the “fight-or-flight” threshold by boosting serotonin and dopamine and relaxing the muscles. Additionally, being able to call upon the breathing work from a yoga class or recalling how you were able to push through a few more minutes on the treadmill, can be just the bump of courage needed to get through life’s most stressful moments.
You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. Do not start this fitness program if your physician or health care provider advises against it.
If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately.
Sally Whitaker is a Pilates and Yoga instructor with 15 years of experience teaching group classes and private clientele, primarily in Independence, MO. During the summer months you can find her teaching Sunset Yoga at Armstrong Park in Grain Valley.