Exercise Basic Chapter 18

Build Better Health in Many More Ways

Exercise fires up your body's major systems, bringing about positive changes that can improve how you feel immediately or even slow down the aging process. Many of the effects, from speedier healing to better vision, result directly from improved circulation. Others come about when your endocrine system releases hormones that carry out a specific job in your brain or body. Here's a look at more aspects of health that are part of the package when you embrace the active life.


Better Circulation

A circulatory system strengthened by exercise will carry positive benefits throughout your body. Researchers have found evidence that wound healing takes less time when the patient takes part in regular aerobic exercise. Those who exercise also are less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that results in a loss of vision perception at the center of the retina. Regular workouts also improve the health and appearance of your skin. READ MORE

A study of healthy older adults took a look at the effects of exercise on wound healing, among other functions. One group exercised, a second group didn't. All of the subjects received a skin wound as part of the study. Their rate of healing was observed and recorded three times a week. The exercise group healed in 29.2 days, on average, while the non-exercisers took an average of 38.9 days to heal.

A long-term vision study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin studied the effects of exercise on vision. Nearly 4,000 men and women were observed over a 15-year span. At the end of the study, researchers calculated that participants with an active lifestyle were 70% less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than sedentary subjects were. The macula is the center of the retina, and AMD causes the blurring of images from the center of a victim's field of vision.

Skin benefits from exercise in many ways. The production of collagen is stimulated by exercise, which results in stronger, more pliant skin. A stress relieving workout also makes acne breakouts and eczema bouts less frequent, because both skin conditions can be triggered by stress. LESS


Better Hormone Balance

Hormones are our chemical messengers, signaling various systems that they should make a response to some change in our status. Because exercise challenges many different organs and systems, the hormones get very busy when we work out. Many hormones play a role in helping the body recover from exercise, and emerge stronger and in better health.

As men age, their natural production of the hormone testosterone tends to drop. When men take part in strength training, their bodies release more testosterone. It is important for building muscle proteins that improve strength and increase the size of muscles. Women at midlife experience a drop in estrogen, which has wide-ranging effects on their health and lifestyle. One interesting effect researchers found was that women who took estrogen replacement medication for less than 10 years had better scores on tests of executive function – but only if they also exercised. It's possible that the two interventions team up to improve women's mental acuity. READ MORE

Cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, plays an important role during exercise. Because it helps regulate metabolism during stress, cortisol helps maintain blood glucose levels, which is vitally important during prolonged workouts. And growth hormone, necessary for building muscle proteins and doing other structural work, is also unleashed by exercise. Growth hormone controls the release of a factor called IGF-1, which is an insulin-like growth factor. IGF-1 is important in building the proteins needed for muscle fiber repair, new blood vessels, and cells that will build bones and connective tissue. LESS


Feeling Well

The effect of exercise on immunity seems, overall, to be positive. There is some evidence that distance runners are more likely to suffer upper respiratory ailments. However, other changes take place that likely result in better immune function, and better health.

An immune protein called interleukin-6 (IL-6) is cranked into the blood stream in great amounts when we exercise. This protein is produced in the skeletal muscle in response to exercise. It has anti-inflammatory effects. It also helps in the bone remodeling process. READ MORE

For most, moderate exercise will have a positive effect on fighting off common bugs. The increase in circulation, stress-relieving effects and even the rise in body temperature during a workout should help protect you from invading germs. A study from Appalachian State University showed that those who walked briskly for 40 minutes per day took half as many sick days for colds and sore throats as non-exercisers did.

The runners who turned out to be more susceptible to colds were training heavily. If you do decide to train for an endurance event like a marathon or triathlon, be sure to honor your rest-and-recovery days between training bouts. You need the downtime to regain your strength and maintain your health. LESS

theVisualMD Wishes to Thank our Scientific Collaborators:

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.