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Aug 10

Benefits of exercise: Better hearing, less constipation – CNN – CNN

The truth is that no medication or supplement even comes close to exercise for being able to do so much for so many people — or probably ever will.

While we’ve all heard that regular exercise can improve heart health and strengthen muscles, it can also enhance the quality of your life in a number of ways. Five such benefits may surprise you.

Researchers aren’t sure why, but they suspect that physical activity may help by affecting body temperature, metabolic rate, heart rate or anxiety level, among other things.

Of course, everyone is different, so it’s possible that nighttime exercise may make it harder for you to sleep. But the only way to know is to try. You may be pleasantly surprised at what a little pre-bedtime sweat can do for your sleep.

Fewer colds

You may have heard fitness buffs claim that they never get sick. This may seem like baseless — not to mention annoying — boasting, but there is scientific truth to it. Numerous studies have linked regular exercise to a lower risk of colds.

Research in animals and humans suggests that exercise chases away colds by boosting the immune system. At the same time, very intense activities may suppress immunity by increasing levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

Though this is a potential issue for elite athletes or people who do marathons or triathlons, the level of activity among most exercisers — even if it’s vigorous — is far more likely to keep colds at bay than bring them on.

Healthier eyes

When you hear about a connection between exercise and eyesight, maybe you picture those eye exercise programs that promise to sharpen your vision. But that’s not what we’re talking about. Instead of moving your eyes, the idea is to move your feet.

Scientists aren’t sure why exercise protects against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. One possibility is that it reduces inflammation, which is associated with both conditions.

Cataracts and AMD have also been linked to risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including elevated blood sugar and triglycerides, which regular exercise can improve. Further, some research suggests that people who are overweight or obese are more prone to cataracts and AMD, so physical activity may help by preventing weight gain.

Enhanced hearing

Exercise may protect against hearing loss by improving blood flow to the cochlea, the snail-shaped structure in the inner ear that converts sound waves into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. What’s more, it may prevent the loss of neurotransmitters, which carry those signals between nerve cells. Exercise may also help by reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both of which are linked to hearing loss.

Of course, blasting music into your ears while you exercise could have the opposite effect and do damage to your hearing. Noise-canceling headphones are a good option because they reduce the need to turn up your music as much. But don’t use them while exercising on a busy road. By being unaware of approaching traffic, you could be subjecting yourself to a risk far more serious than loud music.

Better bathroom habits

A urinary problem familiar to many middle-aged and older men is nocturia, the need to get up more than once a night to pee. Often, the cause is an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. Exercise can help prevent nocturia or reduce its severity.

Exercise helps by decreasing transit time. That’s how long it takes food to move through the digestive tract — not, as it sounds, the amount of time it takes to get to work. Alas, a shorter commute is one benefit that exercise may not have — unless, of course, biking to work is faster for you than driving in heavy traffic.

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Benefits of exercise: Better hearing, less constipation – CNN – CNN

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