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Five Immediate Benefits of Exercise

high-five the immediate benefits of exercise

If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably know regular exercise can prevent (and treat) various diseases, as well as make you live longer. As a health professional, these benefits are in the front of my mind when advocating for people to exercise. But these distant benefits may not be enough to keep a person exercising. You have to find some immediate benefit of exercise to keep doing it. So here are five benefits of exercise that happen right away, making them good reasons by themselves to keep exercising.

exercise makes you happy

1. Exercise Makes You Happier

Exercise and activity have long been known to improve mood. And who doesn’t want to feel happier? As little as 10 minutes of activity may be all you need to feel instantly better. And that feeling of happiness can extend into the next day. It also doesn’t matter what type of activity you do. Team sports, cycling, walking, running or aerobics, all provide benefits, even active household chores. Exercise can also lower the number of emotionally down days you have.

This is believed to be due to the release of endorphins, the happy hormone that blocks the feeling of pain. Endorphins are the natural opioid. In addition, more recent research has indicated that the endocannabinoid system may be involved. This is the same system affected by cannabis. In mice, the level of endocannabinoid in the blood increased after treadmill running, reducing their anxiety. However, when the endocannabinoid receptor was blocked, the anxiety returned even after exercise. The same may be true in us, as exercise leads to an increase in endocannabinoids.

exercise has the immediate benefit of giving you energy

2. Exercise Gives You a Burst of Energy

Having trouble getting energized for the day? Or what about the dreadful mid-afternoon doldrums where you find yourself dozing off at your desk? Then it’s time to get up and move around. While it might seem counter-intuitive to exercise when you’re ready for a nap, exercise can give you an immediate burst of energy. As little as 10 minutes of walking stairs is more energizing than a cup of coffee. And even shorter exercise snacks, can have similar effects.

Regular exercise has even been shown to improve energy. Exercise is also beneficial for people with persistent fatigue and is recommended to treat symptoms of fatigue from cancer treatment. Exercise gives you energy by boosting oxygen circulation throughout your body, warming up your muscles and releasing a number of hormones that make you feel energized.

problem solving easier- the office

3. Exercise Makes Your Daily Tasks Easier

Exercise can make daily tasks easier in both a mental and physical way. Mentally, exercise can improve your memory and creativity. People who are active tend to score higher on creativity tests. And even a single bout of exercise can enhance your creativity. The same goes for learning and memory. After one session of exercise, learning and memory improved. And it can happen even with a session as short as two minutes of vigorous exercise. The benefit is also long-lasting, as retention of new skills was higher one week after a single exercise session compared to those who didn’t exercise.

Physically, exercise builds up your strength and endurance. It makes your heart and muscles more efficient. While not as an immediate effect as the mental benefits, being physically fit makes daily tasks seem easier. Your regular load of groceries isn’t as taxing because you’re stronger. Snow-shovelling in the winter doesn’t take as long because you’re in better shape.

exercise helps you destress

4. Exercise Helps You Destress

When you’re stressed, your adrenaline and cortisol hormones go up, your heart rate increases, muscles tighten and you feel anxious. This is the body’s normal response to stress. This is the so-called fight or flight response. It’s meant to prime you to run away from the threat (stress) or fight it. It works well when the stress is physical, such as your safety being in danger. But most of our stresses are the type we can’t run away from or fight head-on (such as the person cutting you off on the road or your boss placing a demanding deadline on you).

Exercise reduces stress in a number of ways. First, it removes you from the stress, whether getting you out of the office or out from the chaos of life. Your mind also gets to focus on something else. Second, it makes use of your adrenaline, reducing it, along with the stress hormone, cortisol. Third, exercise releases endorphins and endocannabinoids. These are feel-good hormones that reduce pain and improve mood. And exercising regularly can also improve your emotional resilience making potentially stressful situations seem less stressful to begin with.

backflip into bed

5. Exercise Improves Your Sleep

This may not be quite an immediate benefit, but it’s pretty close as the benefits happen later that night. People who exercise regularly, commonly report better sleep quality than those who don’t. And short-term exercise programs have been found to improve sleep quality. But even a single session of moderate exercise can improve your sleep that night. Exercise has also been found effective at improving sleep in people with insomnia.

Exercise improves your sleep in a number of ways. It reduces stress, and stress can lead to poor sleep. Exercise also suppresses melatonin. Melatonin is a calming hormone, which promotes sleep. By suppressing melatonin, exercise keeps you awake during the day and aids in sleeping at night. People who exercise also fall asleep faster. It’s unclear why, but it may be due to the exercise increasing your drive to fall asleep to help you rest and recover for the next day.

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