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The toe-to-head benefits of regular physical activity.

Toni-Ann DiSantis

The toe-to-head benefits of regular physical activity. (via Cleveland clinic wellness)

Is there nothing exercise can’t do for you? Let’s take a look! In terms of protection from chronic illness, exercise helps to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers. Exercise can also lift your mood, improve sleep, and help you manage stress. Resistance training helps increase and maintain muscle mass and strength, as well as guard against low bone density as you age. The head-to-toe benefits of regular exercise get especially interesting when you focus on the head part—the brain.  Several studies focusing on both aerobic exercise and strength training point to exercise as a way to protect memory and avert cognitive decline. Regular physical activity is clearly essential to long-term brain health, but what’s motivating, too, is that even short bouts of exercise can help improve brain function. If you need to problem-solve and focus for a meeting, for example, a 10-minute aerobic workout can help boost your mental abilities. And then there’s sex—yes, sex. Both short bouts and long-term exercise have been shown to improve sex life for both men and women. Exercise for your short- and long-term health by doing at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination, plus muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week. If that seems like too much for you (right now), start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount you exercise by five or 10 minutes every week.