There have been various surveys done in the past that estimate only around a third or so of British people do enough regular exercise. This is a little surprising, given the well-known benefits that exercise can bring. Ask anyone the point of swimming, running, team sports or hitting the gym and you’re likely to hear the same answers – from losing weight or building muscle, to increasing self-confidence or boosting the performance of heart and lungs.
The physical and mental advantages of taking exercise are abundantly clear, but there are also several lesser-known, side-benefits that you may not realise you’re getting. Consider these, next time you’re on the treadmill.
Cancer Prevention – Obviously cancer is an extremely complicated subject, but studies do suggest that not only does exercise boost your immune system, but it also causes your intestines and excretory system to function faster, meaning cancer-causing substances remain in your body for a shorter time and find it harder to gain a foothold. Smoking, and obesity from junk food are also big cancer-causing agents, and again exercise can provide a counter-weight to these, although obviously is no substitute for cutting them out.
Improve your dental hygiene – The state of your mouth is inextricably linked to your overall health. Exercise contributes to your oral hygiene in several ways – firstly by keeping your blood sugar levels in check and burning off carbs, which protects against tooth decay. It also boosts blood circulation and helps the body to make better use of the vitamins and minerals you ingest throughout the day, both of which keep your mouth healthy.
Restore libido – Along with advice on endurance supplements, this has been a fixture of fitness magazines since forever – it is a fact that taking even just a small bit of exercise on a regular basis can improve performance. Physical endurance and increased muscle tone are a given, but also better blood circulation to the “important bits” helps, And of course you can’t rule out the extra confidence given by being in shape.
Helping you learn – Exercise is known to help with mental health – it can lift depression and clear the mind. But were you aware that the improved oxygen flow stimulates brain cells, boosting learning power? Also, by putting your hand and eye co-ordination skills to the test, you actually exercise your “brain-muscles”, helping them strengthen and grow.
Passing wind – We all do it; there’s nothing to be ashamed of or avoid discussing. And the fact is that passing wind is a very healthy thing to do. It eases discomfort in the stomach and intestines, and prevents problems such as constipation and diarrhoea. And it tends to be the very foods that cause us to build up wind, including broccoli, beans and apples, that give us major nutritional benefits. So there’s very little point in trying to avoid flatulence. Performing abdominal exercises, such as sit-ups, or yoga, are some of the times you’re most likely to pass wind. Try not to let it bother you if it happens – remember every time it occurs you’re getting a little bit healthier inside!