8 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

You know that exercise is good for your heart and can help keep the pounds off.

But aside from these “typical” health benefits, what else can it do for you?

It turns out that exercise is good for your body in many different ways.

In fact, it can pretty much help support every single organ in your body.

Below, we’ll explore some of the less commonly cited benefits of exercise that are often overlooked.

1. Exercise Slows Down the Aging Process

Exercise preserves the length of your telomeres, protective fragments at the end of chromosomes linked to slower aging.1

A study conducted in England showed that people who were physically active had longer telomeres than inactive people.2

2. Exercise Increases Testosterone Levels

Optimal testosterone levels maintain vitality, energy, mood, and overall well-being. As men age, levels can decline significantly. Exercise increases testosterone levels. And research shows that older men reap the benefits as well.3,4

3. Exercise Decreases Hot Flashes

Some women think exercise causes hot flashes, but research actually shows that the opposite is true.

According to a study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University, women who engaged in moderate aerobic exercise were less likely to get hot flashes within a 24-hour period.

Women with a lower level of fitness had less benefit.5 The exact mechanism is unknown, but scientists think that exercise balances the nervous system, making hot flashes less likely.

4. Exercise Helps Keep you “Regular”

Exercise gets your digestive tract moving. It causes your intestinal muscles to squeeze, helping food to pass along your gut. In fact, people with chronic constipation have been found to benefit from exercise programs.6

5. Exercise Decreases Joint Pain

Many people suffering from arthritis avoid exercise, thinking it will cause pain. But exercise typcially alleviates joint discomfort.7 It maintains joint flexibility and muscle strength — two keys to healthy joint function.

For some, exercise may be difficult due to existing pain. However, taking a pain reliever one hour before a workout can be helpful for some.

6. Exercise Protects Your Liver Function

Approximately 30% of Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD),8 a relatively benign condition in which the liver stores too much fact. Unfortunately, it can occasionally progress to serious liver disease in some and lead to permanent scarring.

Clinical studies show exercise decreases liver fat stores. In one study, an 8-week resistance exercise program reduced liver fat by approximately 13%.9

7. Exercise Improves Sleep

A study conducted at Stanford University found that older people who exercised slept better. Specifically, these individuals had less difficulty falling asleep and slept for longer periods of time.10

Exercising too close to bedtime may keep you awake, though. For this reason, it’s sometimes a better idea to exercise in the morning.

8. Exercise Boosts Cognitive Function

Exercise improves the hippocampus, the part of your brain that regulates memories.11 Research has shown that physically active adults perform better on cognitive tests than sedentary adults.12

The cause could be brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance which increases during aerobic activity11 and causes brain cells to grow.

So what do you think? Will any of these often-overlooked benefits help you get motivated and moving? We certainly hope so!

NOTE: Before engaging in any exercise program, first consult with your doctor.


  1. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012 Jan 31;109(5):1743-8.
  2. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jan 28;168(2):154-8.
  3. Sports Med. 2010 Dec 1;40(12):1037-53.
  4. Metabolism. 1996 Aug;45(8):935-9.
  5. Menopause. 2012 Oct;19(10):1095-103.
  6. Georgian Med News. 2011 Sep;(198):29-32.
  7. J Physiother. 2011;57(1):11-20.
  8. Cleve Clin J Med. 2008 Oct;75(10):721-8.
  9. Gut. 2011 Sep;60(9):1278-83.
  10. JAMA. 1997 Jan 1;277(1):32-7.
  11. Physiol Behav. 2011 Oct 24;104(5):934-41.
  12. Psychol Aging. 1989 Jun;4(2):183-9.


Bookkeepers Caloundra said...

Inspires me to keep back on track towards exercise. It's been several months since I stopped from exercising. Your article reminds me of what I should be doing everyday.

LifeExtension said...

Bookkeepers Caloundra - Good! We're glad to know it was helpful. Thanks for reading. :)

Elizabeth McGlone said...

Exercise can be simple and light or heavy and driven, but whatever works for your lifestyle, there are not any excuses for it to not exist within your lifestyle for the sake of your overall physical and mental health. Exercise is not only good for our physical health but also for our mental health, and both combined, allows for optimal success mentally and physically. For those that live a life of a hectic schedule, excuses exist that restrict them from getting exercise that would help with the amount of stress that they may be under. For those that live a life that is less demanding, they may find excuses that they are tired, depressed, or that it would be too much to start at the point in their lives that they are at and without exercise they are unable to make necessary positive changes.


Irina Pucic said...

what of these are "unexpected benefits" and to whom?

Life Extension said...

Irina, the benefits are listed out in this article and apply to adults.

Anonymous said...

This type of message always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content, so happy to find good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post. Health and Nutrition

WM P said...

Exercise is one of the best tools available and it is free. Great for joint pain and aches and pains in general. Get up and move. Two 15 minute workouts a day at a minimum.

Post a Comment

All Contents Copyright © 2019 Life Extension® All rights reserved.
Privacy Notice | Terms of Use
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.