According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, exercise reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced. Anxiety is less likely to interfere with the normal brain function of those who exercise regularly.
The study, which was performed on mice, showed that regular physical activity gives the brain an ability to control its reaction to an extent not observed in the brain of a sedentary mouse. The study pinpointed brain cells and regions of the brain which are vital for anxiety regulation, which may ultimately help us to better understand and treat people living with anxiety disorders.
Regular exercise can also be extremely beneficial with regards to prevention and recovery from illness. Below are just some of the other fascinating health benefits of exercise with regards to major illnesses:
Health benefits of exercise 1 of 7
As mentioned above, we know that exercise reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced. Here are six additional health benefits of regular exercise:
Reduced risk of liver cancer 2 of 7
According to a recent study, regular exercise lowers one's chance of developing liver cancer. The research, which was done on mice, significantly reduced the number of large tumors in the active group than the sedentary group after 32 weeks of regular exercise.
These findings are particularly important because Hepatocellular carcinoma (known as HCC) originates in the liver and is one of the most common cancers, causing approximately 695,000 deaths per year worldwide.
Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome 3 of 7
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors linked to increased rates risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, people who lift weights regularly are significantly less likely to have metabolic syndrome.
Another study out of Duke University found that people who got high amounts of vigorous exercise made the biggest strides against metabolic syndrome, but moderate exercise was sufficient for significantly decreasing one's risk of metabolic syndrome.
Reduced breast cancer risk 4 of 7
Research from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that women who exercised about two hours a day, five days a week were about 30% less likely to develop breast cancer than less active women. Now, two hours sure sounds like a lot, so it is important to clarify that this included all types of exercise, from gardening to household chores to hitting the gym.
Also, post-menopausal women who engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity over a long period of time were less likely to develop breast cancer than those who were inactive. Changes in estrogen breakdown, or metabolism, may be one of the mechanisms by which aerobic exercise lowers a woman's breast cancer risk.
Faster recovery for stroke patients 5 of 7
In a small study of stroke patients, researchers found significant improvements in brain function, muscular strength and walking ability among those on a regular exercise program. Exercise may both counteract setbacks during recovery and helps the processes (such as increased cerebral blood flow) that are essential for recovery and therapy following a stroke. The results are relatively quick too, as just six months of exercise showed strong improvement.
Reduced risk of cancer returning 6 of 7
A recent preliminary study suggests that cancer survivors who exercise regularly can reduce the risk of a second incidence of cancer. Survivors who exercised regularly after finishing chemotherapy and other cancer treatment show that their immune systems can remodel themselves to become more effective, thus decreasing the possibility of a return of cancer.
Evidence from 27 observational studies showed that physical activity is associated with reduced breast cancer-specific and colon cancer-specific mortality.
Better brain function 7 of 7
Studies in older adults found that particular aspects of cognitive brain function benefit from regular aerobic exercise. Researchers found that fitter individuals consistently scored higher on mental tests than those who did not exercise regularly. They looked at functions such as: task switching, selective attention, inhibition of responses, and working memory capacity.
In younger adults, working memory updating is the main benefit from regular exercise, but data suggest that task-switching and post-error performance may improve as well. Additionally, people over 70 who are more physically active have fewer "damaged" areas of the brain than those who do little or no exercise.
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.