If getting fit and healthy isn’t enough motivation, new research shows that working out has more very cool wellness benefits.
Your brain grows.
Exercise increases the size of the brain’s hippocampus – an area that regulates emotion and memory formation – by two per cent, research from the University of Illinois found. “The bigger size is related to better recall and decision making,” says Arthur Kramer, the study’s author. He says brainderived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the development of neurons and brain tissue, likely plays a role. A study in Neuroscience Letters showed that strength training can boost production of BDNF by 77 per cent.
Your vision gets sharper.
The workout-triggered spike of BDNF helps your eyes. “Your retina is actually part of your brain,” explains Jeffrey Boatright, a professor of ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine. “So BDNF also benefits retinal cells.” That may be why recent research is showing that regular exercisers are less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. Wear your sunglasses when you’re exercising outside, though. Over time, exposure to UV rays can harm your vision.
Your skin gets smoother and healthier.
Doing cardio regularly can take 30 years off your skin, according to a study from McMaster University. When you work out, your body produces a protein called IL-15 that encourages the growth of mitochondria, cell structures that revitalise your complexion, says researcher Dr Mark Tarnopolsky. (Of course, applying SPF before exercising outside is a must to see benefits.) Working out can ease skin conditions like psoriasis, a disorder in which cells build up and form scaly, itchy patches, too. “Exercise releases anti-inflammatory compounds that relieve psoriasis,” Dr Tarnopolsky says. Plus, the slimming effects of being active and eating well may improve psoriasis symptoms by up to 48 per cent.
TEXT MIREL KETCHIFF PHOTO 123RF.COM.