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7 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

We all know the physical benefits of exercise can change the way we look and feel about our bodies. But what about the benefits we can't see? Think of the gym as an anti-aging appointment, for your brain. :)

1. Reduce Stress

Sweat it out! Exercise can manage your more than your physical stress. It also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. 

2. Boost Happy Chemicals

You may have heard of endorphins. They are released through exercise, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed and (in some cases) can be just as effective as antidepressant pills in treating depression. Not the gym rat type? That's okay. Just 30 minutes of exercise a few times a week can instantly boost your overall mood.

3. Improve Self-confidence

When you look good, you feel good. Duh. It sounds obvious, but physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image by elevating perception of attraction and self-worth.

4. Prevent Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline begins after age 45, and we only continue to lose important brain functions along the way. Exercising boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.

5. Alleviate Anxiety

Endorphins, anyone? Moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise (intervals, anyone?) can reduce anxiety sensitivity. 

6. Boost Brainpower

Cardio can actually create new brain cells (aka neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance. Studies also suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking, and learning. 

7. Sharpen Memory

Sweating increases production of cells in hippocampus responsible for memory and learning.

Lindsey Kennedy