When a person exercises a number of different things happen internally. First and foremost, muscles are flexed and relaxed, the pulse rises and breathing becomes faster. These simple physical reactions then set off a chain reaction throughout the rest of the body.
While the physical results such as lowered weight and increased, more powerful muscle tissue may be the most readily visible signs of exercise, other results may be harder to see at first but are just as beneficial.
In terms of health benefits beyond the obvious, exercise has been linked to increased blood flow to the brain which results in sharper, clearer thinking and increased focus. In fact, a 2012 Canadian study followed 86 women aged 70 to 80 with mild cognitive impairment and found that after 6 months of strength training the patients reported improved attention as well as problem-solving skills. In 2010, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois found the same principle held true for children. Their research followed 49 children and found that kids who exercised regularly were able to learn more quickly than their less-fit counterparts.
Exercise can also make people simply look better. Regular exercise allows the skin to breathe as it sheds dead cells and toxins through sweating. This regular sloughing of cells through exercise can help to keep skin clearer and brighter in appearance. At the same time, exercise also promotes healthy, deeper sleep according to a 2011 study. Regular healthy sleep can also help promote the overall appearance of health.
Routine exercise also plays a role in mental and emotional health. Emotionally it can promote greater sexual enjoyment, particularly for men. A 2012 study published by Emory University revealed a link between regular physical activity and erectile function among men between 18 and 40. For both genders, exercise has been shown to increase blood flow, including flow to the sexual organs, which has long been proven to increase both arousal and enjoyment for both men and women.
Mentally, exercise has been used as a treatment for general depression, Season Affective Disorder, social anxiety and a host of other depressive and mood disorders. Physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers and pain killers. The physical benefits of exercise – stronger muscles, better circulation and increased stamina – also play a part in boosting a person’s overall mood and self-esteem. All of these benefits come together to provide support emotionally, mentally and physically.