The Benefits of Exercise

October 23, 2017
Reporting by Amanda MacMillan, Alice Park, Mandy Oaklander, and Alexandra Sifferlin for TIME
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It’s no surprise that exercise is good for your health. Experts have told us about its benefits for years. Being active for 60 minutes a day can give your body a real boost. But recent research reveals even more detail about why it works. Read on to learn why you should make time to move.

BUILD A MIND-BODY CONNECTION

Meditation is the practice of relaxing the body and mind by mental exercise. It can help you feel relaxed in the moment. But experts say it can also help long-term. Too much stress can lead to inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s often-painful response to injury and overuse. But simple mindfulness can help. New research shows that it can change your genes to help fight off poor health. “Just 15 minutes [a day] of practicing mindfulness seems to do the trick,” Ivana Buric says. She is a researcher at Coventry University, in England.

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BOOST YOUR BRAINPOWER

Exercise can help your brain, not just your body. Exercise makes the heart pump blood faster. That increase gives the brain a boost. Physical activity helps brain cells grow. And moving more appears to lower the chances of memory loss. Running and swimming are two of the best workouts for brain health. They increase the heart rate and pump more blood to the noggin. Had a bad day at school? Exercise can help you cope with anger and feel happier. And breaking a sweat a few times a week can even help you live longer.

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STRENGTHEN YOUR BODY

The benefits of strength training are adding up. It lowers the risk of disease. And using resistance bands can make muscles bigger and bones stronger. Running is another way to help your muscles. Some people believe that over time, the activity can be hard on the knees. But a recent small study found that a short run helped knee joints in the short term. More research is needed to find out exactly how much running is good for the knees over many years. For now, experts say the benefits of running outweigh the risks.