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The benefits of exercise beyond weight loss

Brigitte Bradnick
Features Writer

Exercise has a multitude of benefits that go further than shedding pounds and sculpting muscles. Physical activity promotes optimal brain function, allows for healthy sleep patterns, improves mood, boosts energy, and fights against serious health conditions and diseases.

The brain experiences optimal functioning following exercise.
The brain experiences optimal functioning following exercise.

The brain benefits from physical activity in many ways. For starters, the brain experiences optimal functioning following exercise due to an increase in blood circulation, allowing more oxygen to the brain, and enabling the brain to function at its best. Since brain function is at an optimal state, it is essentially ready to operate at ideal levels in many aspects of daily life. Whenever a lack in motivation is an issue for impending study sessions or deadlines, a brisk 15 or 20 minute walk can curb such deterrents, and allow the brain to not only feel motivated, but also function at its best.

The more routine exercise is in an individual’s life, the more that individual will experience a clear mind, a better train of thought and regular sleep patterns. Cardiovascular activity can assist in the actual process of falling asleep, while also allowing the body to experience a state of deep sleep. When an individual is able to sleep soundly, for an ample amount of time, they are able to function better with a clearer mind.

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Exercise can easily be made a fun experience with friends.
Exercise can easily be made a fun experience with friends.

Exercise also impacts the nervous system, releasing chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins that cause feelings of calmness and happiness. A routine work-out schedule, at least three days a week, can regularly create these positive feelings, while warding off feelings of anxiety or depression.

The level of energy an individual has is greatly impacted by the amount of exercise he or she partakes in. Muscle strength and endurance increases, allowing your body to be able to handle longer, more intense workouts.

Physical activity also helps to deliver various nutrients as well as oxygen to tissues in the body, while also helping the cardiovascular system to function adequately. Therefore, the body has more energy to do daily activities when the heart and lungs are working properly. Physical activity is also beneficial when faced with possible health conditions and diseases. For example, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol, is improved with an active lifestyle. This helps the blood to flow smoothly, preventing damaging cardiovascular diseases. It is also possible to prevent or even regulate health conditions such as stroke or diabetes and even depression with regular exercise.

Following exercise, brain function is at an optimal state. Just a 15- or 20-minute walk can allow the brain to function at its best.
Following exercise, brain function is at an optimal state. Just a 15- or 20-minute walk can allow the brain to function at its best.

With fall and winter temperatures in the very near future, regular exercise might be a tough goal to achieve. Since exercise has such a positive impact on the mind and body, this can even be a good motivator when preparing for final exams, achieving a clear mind and positive mood.

As the rise of mobile devices continues to impress consumers, especially college students, physical activity can easily take a backseat. However, exercise does not have to involve a monotonous trip to the gym. This can be a fun experience involving throwback games of kickball or foursquare with friends or even a long hike with breathtaking views of nature.