>  Stress Reduction--exercise actually changes your brain chemistry.  The production of endorphins in our brain increase, and the sensitivity to the neurotramsmitters serotonin and norepinephrine increase.  These changes result in decreased anxiety and depression, as well as increased positive feelings and a decrease in pain perception.

>  Energy Increase--exercise serves as a significant energy booster, in both healthy individuals and those with chronic conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  It also helps improve the quality of sleep, helping us feel more rested.

>  Weight loss--we all know that exercise helps with weight loss.  Exercise boosts our metabolism for several hours following our activity.  Combining aerobic activity with resistance training seems to have the greatest affect on builidng and maintiaing muscle mass and enhancing fat loss.

>  Brain Health--exercise increases the blood flow to the brain, improving memory and thinking.  It has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus in the brain, which is vital for memory and learning.  Lastly, exercise has been shown to decrease the changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease and Schizophrenia.

General Health--exercise has a positive effect on our heart, reducing cholesterol levels and making the heart (which is a muscle)pump more effectively.  It reduces the risk of diabetes, or helps to manage the disease if present.  It reduces chronic pain, and is great for bone health.  

So...almost each and every one of us can benefit from exercise.  Start small--a 20 or 30 minute walk.  Partner up with a friend or family member--this builds camaraderie and helps to keep us accountable.  The benefits are amazing!

Pam Kimbrough M.D. Pamela Kimbrough, MD, has more than 25 years of experience to share as a board-certified OB/GYN. She offers to the women in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and surrounding area the chance to feel empowered as they partner with her in their own health care and receive a range of comprehensive services at Life’s Cycle.

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