Three Unexpected Ways Movement Keeps Us Healthy

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If you’re reading this post right now, there’s a good chance you’re sitting down at a computer; and if you happen to be reading on your phone, you’re probably not moving around (at least we hope you aren’t, for your own safety!).

It’s no huge scoop to say that movement and exercise are good for your health, but with new research, we’re finding the true extent of those benefits. Three recent studies highlight the surprising impact movement can have on your physical and mental health.

1) Exercise away cancer

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark tested the effects of exercise on mice infected with cancer cells, keeping certain mice in cages with exercise wheels, and others in cages without them. Incredibly, the mice who made use of their exercise wheels and ran regularly had lower rates of cancer. Running seems to have boosted the mice’s immune systems and at least partially protected them against cancer.

2) Exercise away depression

Depression can stem from having depleted levels of glutamate and GABA, two neurotransmitters that help grow brain cells. Researchers at UC Davis Health System just discovered that intense exercise increases the levels of — you guessed it — glutamate and GABA. So regularly hitting the track, the gym, or working out at home can help stave off the blues.

3) Exercise away death

After studying 3,000 50-79 year olds, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the most active participants had an astounding one-fifth the risk of death than those with the lowest levels of activity. And replacing just 30 minutes of a stationary activity with exercise in one’s routine significantly reduces the risk or mortality. We think that’s a good trade-off!

The message is clear: movement is essential for a healthy life in more ways than we ever expected. But regular movement is sometimes easier said than done in a world where TV show are optimized for binge-viewing and our careers keep us behind desks.

So what can you do to get moving? Even small movements can burn calories through NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Starting with small goals like stretching, turning, and bending for 10 minutes each hour can be a great start, according to Lisa Fields at WebMD.

And of course, training for everydayhero events is a great opportunity to get moving, stay motivated, and reap these amazing health benefits–while fighting for the health of others by supporting causes like the American Cancer Society, Walk the Walk Against Breast Cancer, or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Check out what we have coming up in your town here.

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