3 Surprising Benefits of Exercise

“Improve memory? Yep. Research shows that exercise strengthens not only your body but your brain. ”

Why do you exercise? To lose weight? Protect your health? Tone your body from head to toe?* Maybe you want to build strength and stamina to play with your kids or grandkids or to continue to enjoy your favourite physical activity, whether that’s hiking, kayaking or golf. Maybe you work out to improve your memory.

Improve memory? Yep. Research shows that exercise strengthens not only your body but your brain. And if that doesn’t blow your mind, we have a few more scientific findings that might.

1. Exercise can help you achieve life balance.

How many times have you heard someone say, I just don’t have time to exercise? Sure, life is busy. Especially now that we have mobile devices that allow anyone and everyone—the office, the kids, the spouse--to contact us anywhere, anytime, day or night. Work intrudes on home life and home interferes with work. So…taking time out of your busy day to exercise is going to help, you ask? The answer is, yes.

Research surveyed 476 working adults and found that those who worked out regularly felt they were more capable of creating balance between home and office. The researchers speculate that because exercise takes you out of those environments, it allows you to psychologically detach from those places and their demands. It gives you some space to refresh and achieve a little mind-body balance. The scientists also point out that working out makes us feel good about ourselves. And when we feel good about ourselves we’re much better at untangling any conundrum.

2. Exercise can slow arthritis and reduces pain.

Don’t let painful joints keep you from your Curves workout. Regular exercise will not only slow the progression of arthritis, it will help ease the pain. Hard to believe, right? If your joints are damaged, why would you subject them to the pressures of exercise? Because you’ll be happier if you do.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in America recommends exercise as “one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis.” By strengthening the muscles that support your joints you’re transferring workload from your joints to your muscles, which not only slows damage but relieves pain. Regular exercise, also helps you manage your weight—fewer pounds less pressure. Finally, daily stretching keeps muscles flexible and maintains good range of motion in you joints.

Talk with your doctor about your plan to work out so that she and you can track your progression and tweak your weekly routine for the best result.

3. Exercise can help improve and restore memory.

Remember this benefit from the beginning of this piece? If not, you might want to go work out. Research has previously shown that aerobic exercise, like running, boosts memory, but a recent study at Georgia Tech found that resistance training, like the Curves circuit, also sharpens recall. Participants in the study were given 90 images to look at and then were divided into two groups: one that performed 50 reps on a leg extension machine and a control group that went through the motions but didn’t exert any effort. Forty-eight hours later, both groups were given 180 images to look at—a mix of 90 new images and the 90 previously viewed photos. The nonexercisers remembered 50 percent of the photos and the exercisers scored 60 percent.

More news about the brain-building power of exercise comes out of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, where, in 2012 researchers put 41 stroke patients on a six-month exercise program that included walking and resistance workouts. At the end of the program, the patients showed improvements in memory, language, thinking, and judgment by almost 50 percent.

Add these rewards to the many reasons that you exercise regularly and post them on your fridge. We guess you won’t miss too many workouts.

 

By Claire Kowalchik