Healthy heart. Stronger bones. Leaner muscle mass. Faster metabolism. The benefits of exercise are far-reaching, and most of us are familiar with the advantages of working up a sweat. We know that exercise helps trim the waistline, tone the biceps and build cardiovascular fitness.
There are other benefits to exercise that may surprise you. According to recent research studies, exercise has been linked to increased mental capacity, better moods and even decreased likelihood for developing cancer. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett shares these five benefits of regular exercise.
Exercise Boosts Brainpower
Climb stairs to increase your IQ? Believe it or not, exercise can actually make you smarter. At the University of Washington School of Medicine, research study participants, who engaged in aerobic exercise for 45 to 60 minutes, four days per week, showed greater gains in mental skills than the non-exercisers. Meanwhile, researchers at the UCLA School of Medicine report that obese adults have about eight percent less brain volume than adults at normal weights.
Exercise Improves Your Mood
The next time you're feeling down in the dumps, go for a walk or hop on your beach cruiser. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine reports that women who walk at least 7,500 steps per day are 50 percent less likely to suffer from depression than women who remain sedentary.
It doesn't matter how you get the 7,500 steps. Participating in an aerobics-style exercise class will add-up to 7,500 steps in a jiffy. But, don't be dismayed if you can't make it to class every day. Walk the stairs at lunchtime for 10 minutes, take a couple laps around your office building for an afternoon break, then take a stroll around the neighborhood later in the evening.
Exercise Battles Cancer
Over the past decade, dozens of scientists have recommended exercise as a means to ward-off cancer. More recently, researchers are also suggesting that cancer survivors should engage in regular exercise to ease fatigue, minimize the risk of recurrence, and improve quality of life. Just last month, the American College of Sports Medicine published guidelines that advise cancer survivors to shoot for two and a half hours of exercise per week.
Exercise Banishes Cravings
If you've ever logged an extra two hours on the stair-stepper to compensate for that giant slice of banana cream pie, you're not alone. And while exercise certainly burns calories from gluttonous eating sprees, new research delivers even better news. It looks like regular workouts can actually help us ward-off cravings before we dive into the cookie jar.
According to research published in the American Journal of Physiology, individuals who participated in cardiovascular or strength-training exercises reported significantly fewer hunger pangs and cravings than their sedentary counterparts. That's because exercise causes blood flow to divert from the stomach to your muscles that are hard at work, thus lessening hunger.
Exercise Helps You Make a Good Impression
Headed to a job interview? Meeting your future mother-in-law? Use exercise to help you make a good first impression. In a study at the University of Alberta in Canada, 450 participants responded more positively towards individuals who exercise versus folks who avoid fitness. The study participants described the exercisers as happier, healthier, and more energetic than non-exercisers
As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. Today the program boasts more than 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in all 50 states and 32 countries. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor. For more information go to jazzercise.com or call (800) FIT-IS-IT.