Fairy tales and old epics are loaded with magic objects that empower lost, endangered, or bewildered characters. Magic boots, apples, even cups of tea all are credited with helping heroes overcome difficulties and slay dragons.
You could add exercise to that list, because it has magical powers too.
Exercise can increase your longevity, keep menacing health problems from your door, and turn gray skies blue as it uplifts your mood. Here's what exercise can do for you:
• Help control your weight. Although not always helpful for shedding pounds (people may eat more when exercising regularly), it's proven to help retain weight loss.
• Improve your heart health. One study found that levels of heart-protecting HDL cholesterol go up after 10 weeks of high-intensity strength training three times weekly.
• Help control blood sugar. Exercise lowers glucose levels for 24-plus hours and increases insulin sensitivity.
• Reduce your cancer risk. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that exercise cut the risk for 13 types of cancer.
• Improve your outlook. Thirty-plus minutes daily, three to five days a week, reduces depression and anxiety symptoms.
• Sharpen your brain power. Exercise stimulates the release of hormones that encourage growth of new brain cells and neuronal connections.
• Strengthen bones and muscles to increase metabolism and maintain mobility.
• Improve everything that happens in bed: sleep, sex drive and sexual functioning, even your eyesight, as you read yourself to sleep. (Exercise helps prevent macular degeneration and can reduce the risk of glaucoma by 25%.)