Elite Runner John Vinson Shares 3 Health & Wellness Benefits of Regular Exercise

John Vinson
Aug 29 · 4 min read

We all know how important it is to get regular exercise, but aside from the usual goal of losing weight, exercise can have dozens of other benefits for your health and overall wellness. From improving your skin to shrinking your fat cells, we are going to go over some of the most important — and slightly unexpected — benefits of exercise. Elite long-distance runner John Vinson has identified how these benefits can be transformative for your daily habits and life and shared them for our readers.

John Vinson is the Assistant Vice-President of Campus and Community Safety, who has completed over 100 marathons on 6 continents — the completion of the Antarctica marathon in 2021 will mark all seven continents- knows the importance of optimizing your performance. For this reason, John Vinson is the perfect candidate to dive into the lesser-known benefits of regular exercise.

Boosts Mood & Mental Health

One of the most transformative aspects of exercise is the boost in mood and mental health. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain (serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine) that dull pain, lighten the mood, and relieve stress. A recent study done by Harvard found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26 percent. John Vinson explains that exercise is a powerful depression fighter because it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. Increasing your heart rate several times a week will also give you more energy, which can combat the lethargy associated with depression. If you suffer from anxiety, exercise can aid in the reduction of the stress hormone cortisol. An increase in heart rate can actually reverse stress-induced brain damage by stimulating the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, which not only improve cognition and mood, but aid in improved thinking that is clouded by stressful events — so it may even improve your performance at work.

Increases Lifespan

We all want our quality and length of life to improve, and luckily exercise has the remedy. Exercise can increase your overall lifespan by as much as five years. John Vinson explains that a new study suggests that moderate-intensity exercise may slow down the aging of cells. As humans get older, and our cells divide over and over again, their telomeres (the protective caps on the end of chromosomes), get shorter. To find out exactly how exercise affects telomeres, researchers took a muscle biopsy and blood samples from ten healthy people before and after a 45-minute ride on a stationary bicycle. They found that exercise increased levels of nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1), which protect your telomeres, ultimately slowing how quickly they shorten over time. Another study of roughly 1,180 men found that they did not need to exercise for long to experience positive results. Sporadic bouts of exercise throughout the day, even if each was under 10 minutes, had similar benefits to lifespan that exercising more than 10 minutes at a time had.

Better Sleep

Lastly, regular exercise will ensure your sleep better and more soundly, which can improve every aspect of your life from energy to focus. Researchers don’t completely understand exactly how exercise improves your overall sleep, as they are unable to pinpoint the exact mechanism that makes it possible; however, they do know that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. John Vinson explains that John Hopkins Medicine found that it matters when you exercise as well. Aerobic exercise can cause the body to release endorphins, which can create a level of activity in the brain that may keep people awake. People who are affected by this level of activity in the brain may consider exercising at least 1 to 2 hours before going to bed, giving endorphin levels time to wash out and the brain time to wind down. Additionally, elevation in your body’s core temperature may signal your body clock that it is time to be awake. After about 30 to 90 minutes, the core body temperature will start to fall, and the decline can help to facilitate sleepiness. Getting proper sleep will not only provide you with additional energy and focus but can also aid in significant fat loss.

John Vinson’s Final Thoughts

As mammals, it is within our nature to move, walk, and exercise on a daily basis. In stationary work environments — where most of us spend our day sitting — we have lost this natural inclination towards movement. If you want to improve your mental health, extend your lifespan, and get better overall sleep, exercise is crucial. When you start incorporating exercise into your daily regiment, try maintaining a consistent schedule to ensure consistency. You may want to start off with aerobic exercise, HIIT workouts, or running, and can progress from there. Finding a method of exercise that keeps you motivated and excited will aid in your staying power.

John Vinson

Written by

Assistant Vice-President, Campus & Community Safety. Seattle, Washington.

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