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A little exercise makes a big difference

- September 26, 2018 -

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You reckon the only way you will benefit from exercise is to sweat it out for hours at a time - and you’re not someone who a) has the time and b) even likes exercise. All pretty hopeless then! But what if we told you that even 10 minutes of exercise can make an improvement to your health? And you can do any type of exercise, even the exercise which isn’t what you would consider exercise like dancing around your kitchen when no one is looking or walking briskly. Does exercise suddenly seem more achievable?!?

Move to help your mood

There’s a reason why when life is getting overwhelming a walk outside suddenly makes things clearer. Studies from around the world looking at how exercise can lower our risk of developing depression and anxiety, working up a sweat can relax us in plenty of other ways. This research was recently pulled together by Michigan researchers who discovered just how strongly exercise was linked to happiness. “Every one of the observational studies showed a beneficial relationship between being physically active and being happy,” says Weiyun Chen, who wrote the review.

The type and intensity exercise did not seem to matter either – from jogging to yoga, it all had a positive effect and any amount of time and frequency was better than doing nothing at all. People who worked out only once or twice a week said they felt much happier than those who never exercised. 10 minutes was enough to encourage a happier frame of mind. But more movement generally contributed to greater happiness and anyone exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days were about 30 percent more likely to consider themselves happy than people who did less. “I think the indications are strong that exercise can contribute to happiness and, while anything helps, a bit more is probably better,” she Weiyun.

For adults across Britain who exercise regularly, that familiar natural high moment from exercise is less than 10 minutes away according to a new survey. The poll of 2,000 people found the average time for those who exercise three times a week or more is just nine minutes and 44 seconds. And women feel the natural high from exercise faster than men, with women on average achieving that natural high over 1 minute quicker - nine minutes and seven seconds compared to 10 minutes and 20 seconds for men.

Even short exercise changes our brains

As well as remodeling our bodies (even just a little!) exercise can remodel our brains! The benefits of physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, have positive effects on brain function on multiple fronts from the molecular to behavioral level. According to a study from University even briefly exercising for 20 minutes improves information processing and memory functions.

Exercise affects the brain in a number of ways - it increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain, it also aids the bodily release hormones which help to provide a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells. Physical movement also stimulates the growth of new connections between cells in a wide array of important cortical areas of the brain. In fact a UCLA study found exercise increased growth factors in the brain—making it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.

The antidepressant effect of  exercise has also been linked with more cell growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory so you will be gaining benefits from exercise for a long time after you have sat down again! 

Healthy people are happy people!

When we are fit and healthy we are less likely to get ill as our body is better able to fight nasties and we are also less likely to get injured thanks to our muscles being stronger and able to function better. And feeling happy is also likely to make you healthier too – so you end up on a very positive loop! Researchers believe happier people may be more inclined to live a healthy lifestyle which doubles the positive affect that being content may directly on the heart and immune system. Again, the benefits to our body and mind from exercise come after just ten minutes – and no one is too busy not to be able to exercise for ten minutes a day. Especially when there is so much to gain!

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