The holiday season is upon us! Common during this time of year is the challenge to stay moving while we're squeezing in holiday parties and preparing for festivities. I want to offer a quick bit of insight to the great benefits of exercise to keep you motivated to stay moving this time of year!
A study in 2018 from UT Southwestern Medical Center looked at the effects of exercise on two specific types of neurons in the brain that both humans and mice have. (They researched mice, but since we share these neurons researchers suggest that makes the results of this study applicable to us humans too.) They found that exercise enhances the neurons responsible for reducing appetite, increasing metabolism, and lowering blood glucose levels (think: lowering the risk of Type II diabetes). The other neuron type they were looking at is responsible for slowing metabolism and increasing appetite. (That's opposite of what we ideally want!) Exercise diminished activity of this type of neuron. Since the activity of the good neurons are enhanced, and the activity of the not-great-for-our-physique neurons were simultaneously diminished, this is a two-fold win! The exercise effect on these two types of neurons can last up to two days, and the more you exercise the greater the effect.
Similarly, another study looked at the after-effects of exercise following a 45-minute vigorous exercise bout. At 14 hours following exercise, participants were burning 190 more calories on average at rest compared to the non-exercise group. This is a 37% increase in calories burned while at rest! So in other words, if you put in the work now you'll keep burning the calories for hours later! I love it.
This highlights some of the great benefit from exercise: less appetite, more calories burned at rest, and better blood sugar levels. Sounds like a great combination of WINS to me as we enter this holiday season full of delicious food and cheer. So if you squeeze in a brief workout before that holiday party, know that you are reaping the benefits long into the night as you eat, drink, and be merry. Cheers to that!