Exercise improves more than just physical health

Everybody knows that exercise is good for you, but other than its obvious health benefits, what else is it good for? It turns out that exercise is good for a lot, actually.

Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education, posted an article by its staff titled “Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity.” The article begins with what everybody already knows: exercise controls weight and combats health conditions and diseases. Exercise also, however, improves mood.

“Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed,” the Mayo staff wrote. “You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve self-esteem.”

So have you been depressed and stressed because of end-of-semester assignments piling on top of one another at your desk? Take a brisk walk once a day, or even every other day. It may help you be in the mood to focus.

It may also help you have the energy.

“Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently,” Mayo staff said. “And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.”

Are you having trouble sleeping? Exercise can help with that too.

“Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep,” Mayo staff wrote. “Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.”

Senior basketball player Jordyn Williams confirmed that exercise helps her out with more than just her basketball playing and general health.

“I feel worse on days where I do nothing physical,” Williams said. “I always have to do something!”

John Brown University writer in residence Patty Kirk said that she gets writing ideas when she goes on runs.

“Doing yoga with a bunch of other likeminded people feels like church,” she said of how exercising with others can promote community.

Kirk runs daily, totaling 21 miles a week. “I feel stressed and crappy if I don’t exercise,” she said.

So even if you aren’t looking to improve your health or lose weight, exercise can help you work through sour moods, give you the energy you need to get through your day and help you sleep better at night. Need an exercise partner? Ask your friends. Improving your lifestyle with some good company can prove to be more fun than people make it out to be.