What Exercise Does for You — a Lot! The amazing head-to-toe benefits of regular physical exercise

With spring in bloom in many parts of the world, you may bethinking about getting in shape for summer—losing any extra“winter weight” and toning your body. Those are worthy goals but remember that regular physical activity benefits more than just the appearance of your body.

In fact, the list of exercise benefits is quite lengthy and broad.In terms of protection from chronic illness, exercise help slower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers.Exercise can also lift your mood, improve sleep, and help you manage stress. Resistance training helps increase and maintain muscle mass and strength, as well as guard against low bone density as you age.The head-to-toe benefits of regular exercise get especially interesting when you focus on the head part—the brain.

Several studies focusing on both aerobic exercise and strength training point to exercise as a way to protect memory and avert cognitive decline. Regular physical activity is clearly beneficial to long-term brain health, but what’s motivating, too, is that even short bouts of exercise can help improve brain function.

If you need to problem-solve and focus for a meeting, for example, a 10-minute aerobic workout can help boost your mental abilities. Exercise for your short- and long-term health by following the active time recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. For adults, that’s at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination, plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week. If that seems like too much for you (right now), start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount you exercise by five or 10 minutes every week.