Exercising keeps your muscles toned and heart strong, but did you know it can also combat chronic health problems? Researchers are discovering that physical activity can reduce symptoms of certain conditions as much as—or even more than—medication.

  • Depression: Exercise releases endorphins, a chemical in the body that reduces the perception of pain and improves mood. Studies show that aerobic and resistance exercises help alleviate depressive symptoms.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises help maintain healthy blood glucose levels and protect the heart from complications of diabetes. Low-impact activities like yoga, swimming or cycling are best for those with nerve pain.
  • Hypertension: Research reviewed by the American College of Sports Medicine shows that aerobic exercises—like brisk walking or dancing—can help lower blood pressure in those with hypertension.
  • Osteoporosis and arthritis: Exercise strengthens bones and muscles that support joints. Range of motion and flexibility exercises also reduce joint pain.
  • Parkinson’s disease: Exercise maintains balance and mobility for those with Parkinson’s. One popular therapeutic program uses boxing-style workouts to fight the degenerative effects of the disease. According to the National Parkinson Foundation, people with Parkinson’s disease who exercise two and-a-half hours a week experienced a slower decline in quality of life.

So do your health a favor and get moving!

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