Healthy You: Breaking a sweat can deliver unexpected benefits

With warm weather and long days upon us, getting a little exercise can be a little more tempting for many.
Most people know that routine exercise does a body good.
While it may not require a medical-school degree to know that exercise can be a great way to lose weight and reduce risk for various illnesses, regular exercise has even more beneficial side effects that might surprise even the most ardent fitness enthusiasts.
Exercise produces positive psychological benefits. WebMD notes that there are several psychological benefits of routine exercise. Those benefits occur because exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are hormones that interact with receptors in the brain that reduce a person’s perception of pain. Some additional psychological benefits of exercise include stress reduction and prevention of anxiety and depression.
♦ Exercise can improve social lives. WebMD also notes that routine exercise can improve self-esteem, which can make it easier for people to connect with others.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Sports Economics concluded that participation in sports activities can induce prosocial behaviors. Though participation in sports is often promoted as a great way for kids to make new friends, the social aspect of exercise and sports participation is no less beneficial for adults.
If nothing else, going to the gym or arranging to walk with friends is a chance to hang out with people who have similar interests.
♦ Regular exercise can benefit careers. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Labor Research linked regular exercise with an annual wage increase between 6 and 10 percent. Researchers found that moderate exercise yields a positive earnings effect, but individuals who exercised frequently had even higher wage increases.
♦ Exercise can benefit long-term cognitive health. Though the reasons remain unclear, there seems to be a link between regular physical activity and long-term cognitive health. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that regular exercise can positively influence cognitive ability, reduce the rate of cognitive aging and lower the risk for certain dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Many people feel a significant sense of accomplishment by the end of a vigorous workout. Such feelings could grow even more profound when individuals recognize the many lesser known benefits of breaking a sweat.