live it active

The immediate benefits of exercise

It’s Saturday. The joys of the weekend await you. I thought I would talk today about the immediate benefits associated with exercise – and when I say immediate, I mean right after.

  1. Improvement in insulin sensitivity. Why is this good? Improved insulin sensitivity at the myocyte (your muscle cell) means that more glucose will get in the cell instead of staying in the blood stream. This makes your cells and best of all, your pancreas happy.
  2. Improvement in mood. I’ve already talked about the benefits of exercise on stress and anxiety, but exercise can improve your mood right away. How? There is an increase in a number of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin which are associated with reward/pleasure and mood stabilization, respectively.
  3. An increase in HDL-cholesterol. Cholesterol? Isn’t that bad? Well yes, but HDL is the good stuff. The kind that gets rid of free radicals in the blood which are associated with atherosclerosis (the white stuff that clogs your arteries).
  4.  Reduction in blood pressure. If you are hypertensive or even pre-hypertensive one bout of physical activity will have an effect on your blood pressure.
  5. Improved motility. Yes, bowel motility. As I have mentioned before, exercise is a stress and thus, will cause the release of catecholamines and endorphins. These chemicals can influence changes in gastric motility (i.e. they make you have to go). Timing is everything, but regular bowel movements and gastric motility reduces the risk of polyps and potentially various bowel cancers.

If you stick with your physical activity program you will gain even more benefit. You’ll improve your fitness (the ability of your heart, lungs, and musculoskeletal systems to deliver oxygen to needy cells during exercise), reduce plaque build-up in the arteries, decrease belly fat (specifically the stuff called visceral adipose tissue which is associated with a number of chronic conditions), improve circulation, and hormonal regulation.

So get up, and get active! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thompson, P et al. 2001. The acute versus chronic response to exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 33(6);438-445.

Musi, N et al. 2006. Insulin resistance and improvements in signal transduction. Endocrine: 29(1);73-80.

Peters, H et al. 2001. Potential benefits and hazards of physical activity and exercise on the gastrointestinal tract. Gut: 48(3);435-439.


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