5 Benefits of Working Out You Haven't Heard About Yet

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These five little-known benefits of working out might be just the inspiration you need to schedule your next gym visit.

by Catherine Santino

It might seem like the benefits of working out are pretty straightforward — increased activity, heightened energy, and a reduced risk of developing heart disease as well as other health conditions. The list goes on and on!

But routinely making time for fitness can have some other serious benefits that you might not be aware of. For example, did you know that exercise can improve your senses, like hearing and vision? Yes, you read that correctly!

These five little-known benefits of working out might be just the inspiration you need to schedule your next gym visit.

1. Exercise Can Help You Focus

In a world where we spend our days responding to emails or getting distracted by smartphones, it can be tough to focus our minds on anything for a substantial amount of time. Interestingly, research has shown that exercise may just be the answer to this issue.

In an article published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, scientists studied 32 adult men who reported having symptoms of ADHD. The researchers measured the men's ability to pay attention and perform mental tasks after they either sat or biked for a 20-minute period. The report showed that exercise enhanced the subjects' energy levels and motivation, as well as reduced feelings of depression and confusion.

2. Working Out Can Slow the Aging Process

You may feel #ForeverYoung, but the truth is, we're all aging. There's good news, though! Turns out, a regular exercise routine can actually improve the health of your DNA.

In a small study published in the journal Science Advances, researchers from the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels found that physical activity helped delay cell aging in test subjects. It's obviously impossible to stop time, but the study found that exercise boosts levels of a compound that protects a section of our chromosomes that's responsible for aging.

Pretty cool, huh?

3. Regular Activity Can Prevent Illnesses

Colds are far and away the most irritating part of winter, and sometimes it seems impossible to fight them off — especially when everyone around you is coughing and sneezing. But in a 12-month study published in The American Journal of Medicine (AJoM), those who exercised regularly reported having substantially fewer colds than those who only performed stretches.

4. Workouts Can Improve Symptoms of Chronic Disease

It may seem as though the chronically ill should stay away from anything strenuous, but Dr. Robert Sallis, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in California, has seen the benefits of working outfirsthand.

Dr. Sallis has prescribed regular exercise to his patients since the 1990s and tells Time that, "It really worked amazingly, particularly in my very sickest patients. If I could get them to do it on a regular basis—even just walking, anything that got their heart rate up a bit—I would see dramatic improvements in their chronic disease, not to mention all of these other things like depression, anxiety, mood, and energy levels."

5. Routine Exercise Can Enhance Your Hearing and Vision

Yep, that's right. According to another AJoM study of more than 68,000 female nurses over 20 years, walking at least two hours a week was found to be associated with a lower risk of hearing loss. In a similar study of almost 50,000 runners and walkers, those who exercised most vigorously were 42 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those who exercised the least vigorously.

Possible reasons behind these correlations are that exercise tends to reduce inflammation (guarding against eye disease) and may increase blood flow to the ear canals (preventing hearing loss). Who would have thought?

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.