Who doesn’t want to see results fast – super fast? We’d all like to look in the mirror and see flat abs and toned biceps after the first workout, but with exercise, you have to wait weeks or even months to realize the fruits of your labors – or do you? It takes time to see muscles grow and to develop more stamina and endurance but you can reap some of the health benefits of exercise right away. Here are some of the health benefits of exercise you can enjoy as soon as you start working out.
Boost Your Mood
Have you ever entered into a workout feeling a little down about life? Yet, once you got your heart rate going and the blood flowing to all parts of your body, the negative mood lifted. This is a common occurrence for people who exercise and one that often keeps us coming back for more. We know exercise is linked with lower rates of depression but you get some mood-boosting benefits the very first time you do a high-intensity sweat session. You may not get an immediate change in brain chemicals, like serotonin and dopamine, that regulate your mood. That happens over a longer period of time, but exercise triggers the release of endorphins, chemicals that help stymy pain and leave you feeling a little more blissful.
Relief of Minor Aches and Pains
We just said exercise boosts endorphins after a single workout. Endorphins help to relieve minor aches and pains, but exercise can also help minor musculoskeletal aches and stiffness. Studies show that exercising relieves the discomfort of fibromyalgia and helps ease the symptoms of arthritis as well. It does this partially by increasing blood flow to areas that are stiff and painful and by lengthening tight muscles. A single workout can diminish the symptoms, although it’s important to check with your physician before exercising with pain.
Reduction in Appetite
Since you’re burning energy, you might think that exercise would boost your appetite. However, studies show exercise favorably impacts hormones that control appetite, including the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses appetite. Here’s the kicker. To get these appetite hormones working in your favor, boost the intensity of your workouts. High-intensity workouts suppress appetite better than lower intensity ones. Also, some studies show that the benefits of exercise on appetite are more pronounced for men than women.
Intense exercise may dial down your appetite but don’t get the idea in your head that you can eat a sugary, high-fat treat because you worked out. That 400-calorie muffin from Starbucks with a frou-frou drink can more than make up for the calories you burned. In fact, exercise alone isn’t highly effective for weight loss, although it makes it easier to maintain the weight that you lose. Plus, we all know exercise has substantial health benefits longer term.
Maybe it’s due to the endorphins pumping through your body, but exercise gives you the feeling of having conquered the world! Ever feel like that after a workout? You should feel good. You set a goal to exercise and you followed through. That’s a confidence and self-esteem booster. A meta-analysis, a study that analyzed multiple studies, showed that exercise boosted self-esteem in kids and adolescents over a very short period of time – no waiting around for the benefits. So if you could use a self-esteem boost, get moving!
Enhances Short-Term Memory
How do these benefits come about? We know that, over time, exercise boosts brain health by enhancing neurogenesis, the building of new nerve cells and novel nerve cell connections. But, exercise also appears to have short-term effects on memory and cognitive function. In one study, researchers found that healthy, older individuals and those with memory deficits, experienced an enhanced ability to recall after a single bout of moderately intense exercise.
Reduction in Blood Pressure
An aerobic exercise session can lower your blood pressure for 24 to 48 hours after a workout. Exercise decreases the resistance within blood vessels and that leads to a drop in blood pressure. In fact, over time, exercise can lead to a sustained reduction in blood pressure. If you have borderline hypertension, regular aerobic exercise can be as effective as a blood pressure medication. Exercise may also help people with borderline high blood pressure reduce their risk of becoming a full-blown hypertensive.
Lower Blood Sugar
There’s an epidemic of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in America and exercise is one of the best ways to fight this growing problem – and you get benefits even from a single workout. In response to exercise, cells take up glucose more easily and can do it without the help of insulin. Exercise activates transporters on the membrane of cells called GLUT-4 transporters that help cells quickly suck up glucose. Over time, exercise also improves insulin sensitivity. That’s why it’s so beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Boosts Your Metabolic Rate
If you do a high-intensity workout, your resting metabolism will be higher for hours after you finish a heart-pumping, HIIT session. When you push your body into the “anaerobic zone,” to the point that you’re gasping for air, it creates an oxygen deficit and other metabolic perturbations that your body has to compensate for afterward. To compensate, you breathe harder, sweat more, and your body expends more energy to restore homeostasis. That all takes extra energy. So, your metabolism remains higher for hours after an intense workout. That’s a benefit if you’re trying to lose weight!
The Bottom Line
Now you can see that the benefits of exercise begin with your very first workout – so, make sure you’re getting these awesome perks of a heart-pumping workout.
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