Made to move: Scientific proof you should exercise in 2019

By Julie Jordan
Published January 4, 2019

Did your New Year’s resolution involve getting in shape? You’re not alone. Most of us know that if we exercise more, we’ll look better. But what about all the other health benefits to exercising? Why should we keep at it when life presents obstacles? If shrinking your waistline simply isn’t enough motivation to keep you exercising regularly, consider these health benefits based on scientific research. 

  • Lower blood pressure. Studies show that exercise may be as effective as prescribed drugs to lower high blood pressure. If your blood pressure reads 120/80 or less, you are within healthy range. If it is higher, you are at risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure, which is 140/90 or higher. High blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. Keep your blood pressure lower to reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, brain and kidneys. When you make your heart’s job easier—freely pumping blood with oxygen throughout your body—you make your life easier. Learn more about high blood pressure from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  
  • Reverse cognitive decline. Six months of walking may be enough to reverse cognitive decline. Doing a cardio exercise like walking or biking three times a week improves thinking skills according to research. When you lower your risk for cardiovascular disease by increasing aerobic activity, you also increase your cognitive functioning. In this study, a group of 65-year-old adults, improved their cognitive age, according to before and after tests, by nine years after using the DASH diet and incorporating exercise. When you exercise your body, you exercise your mind too.
  • Look 30 years younger. The exercise boom of the 1970s is starting to show results in those who kept it up. Scientists found that people who exercised regularly for decades maintained the heart, lung and muscle fitness of healthy people at least 30 years younger. Both men and women had similar cardiovascular health to those in their 40s. How much exercise does it take? The participants had a history of participating in structured exercise four to six days a week for a total of seven hours a week.
  • Lower odds of breast cancer’s return. This study demonstrated that if you work to improve your diet, reduce fat intake and increase physical activity, the likelihood of breast cancer returning can be diminished by 50 percent. Learn more about reducing your risk for breast cancer.
  • Boost metabolism for days. Research demonstrates that neurons in mice influencing metabolism are active for up to two days after a 20-minute treadmill run. The study showed that one semi-intense workout can show benefits for days, especially in glucose metabolism. That is good news for diabetics. The same workout leads to decreased appetite for up to six hours. If you’re trying to drop those holiday pounds, just one workout may help control your food cravings, making it easier to get back into the groove of a healthy diet.
  • Reduce cardiac events with resistance. There are heart benefits to cardio workouts, but there are also heart benefits to strength training. Research shows that small amounts of resistance exercise like weightlifting, pushups, sit-ups or lunges each week (at least three times a week for 20 minutes each time), is linked to 40 to 70 percent fewer cardiovascular events in adults.  

Remember to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Planning and motivation are critical to a success. Use a workout buddy to help you stick with it.