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Top fitness benefits you may be unaware of

01 Sep 2012 at 10:15hrs | Views

The benefits of regular exercise

Getting fit through a programme of regular exercise has numerous benefits for your body and mind. However, there are also many little known health benefits too, including better hearing, focus and even sex drive. Here's our guide to some of the benefits of exercise that are not so well known.

Slimmer thighs, firmer muscles, more energy and a healthier heart are all pay-offs you'd expect from getting fitter - but here are seven benefits of improved fitness that you may not have thought of...
Better hearing through exercise
A study at Miami University found that cardiovascular training improves your hearing in the short term and helps to preserve it in the long term. Other studies have found that the least fit people tend to have the worst hearing - and that's even taking into account the number of exercisers blasting their ears with iPods...
More creativity from working out
Brand new research from Rhode Island College suggests that aerobic exercise can kick-start your creativity - and keep your brain cells tingling for a couple of hours afterwards. Activities that are 'no-brainers' and don't require you to put in too much thought are best - so pick running or swimming over rock climbing or doubles tennis. Also, don't go too hard, as the best creativity boost comes from exercising at a comfortable pace.
Higher libido from exercise
Yes, being fit helps to improve your sex life! A study that looked at 8,000 women aged 18 to 49 found that in women who exercise three times a week, 40% report greater arousal, 31% have sex more often and 25% find orgasm easier to achieve. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health involving 31,000 men found that men who are physically active have a 30% lower risk of erectile dysfunction than men who do little or no physical activity.
Better quitting power through exercise
If you are trying to kick your smoking habit, research suggests that exercise might help. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed 281 sedentary female smokers, who were otherwise healthy, in their efforts to quit. The study found that smokers who take part assigned exercise sessions are twice as likely to quit and stay cigarette free compared to those who don't do any exercise.
Deeper sleep after exercise
Being active during the day can help you get more sleep in at night. According to the US National Sleep Foundation, daytime physical activity can help you to fall asleep more quickly and get better quality sleep. Regular exercise can also help sufferers of insomnia to beat their problem. And, contrary to popular belief, recent research from the University of California suggests that even late evening workouts won't hamper your ability to get to sleep.
More regularity from exercise
Yes, we're talking about how regularly you go to the bathroom here! An Australian study found that regular exercisers are less likely to suffer from constipation than sedentary people. The boost to your circulation â€" as well as the actual physical effects of movement â€" are thought to be the reason for this. There is even a link between high levels of fitness and low levels of bowel cancer â€" though this may be because fit people are more likely to eat healthily, too.
Better focus through exercising
The very fact that exercise requires planning, application, dedication and discipline means that every time you get your kit on, you are working on your character development, too. For example, a study of people training for a marathon in New York found that regular exercise improves people's goal-setting, organisation and discipline â€" both at work and in other areas of life.

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