7 ways exercise benefits your life

We all know exercise benefits your body, but it also benefits you in ways you can't see.

Story highlights

  • Exercise can boost immunity and reduce anxiety
  • It also may help you sleep better and get you in the mood for love
  • Working out can strengthen your brain as well as your body

(upwave.com)Glance around the gym, and you'll probably see lots of people who are exercising in an attempt to shed pounds, tone muscle and look better.

But numerous research studies have uncovered many other benefits to working out -- ones that aren't necessarily visible from the outside.
    Here, some of the awesome ways exercise can benefit your mind, body and soul:
    It zaps anxiety. Ever notice that you can start a workout feeling stressed and anxious, and end it feeling good? It isn't in your head.
    Or, actually, it is: According to a new study from Princeton University, exercise appears to change the chemistry of the brain by causing the release of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps quiet brain activity and minimize anxiety. The study found that people who ran regularly had a low reaction to stressful situations, even if they hadn't run in more than 24 hours.
    It boosts immunity. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of certain serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. It can also decrease your chances of developing -- and getting stuck with -- more common illnesses, such as flus and colds. (According to one recent study, colds lasted 43% longer for people who exercised once a week or less.)
    It brings on better sleep. If you're having sleep problems, skip the pills and hit the pool, track or spin studio. According to one study, people who exercised regularly for about 10 weeks reported sleeping better than they had previously.
    What exactly does "better" mean? In this case, it translated to dozing off faster and having a decreased need for sleep-promoting medication.
    It decreases PMS. Women often report feeling irritable and bloated before their periods, but exercise appears to minimize these conditions. In a survey of nearly 2,000 New Zealand women, researchers found that those who exercised, rested and wrote in a journal about their symptoms fared better than those who took specific vitamins or followed other DIY advice.
    It gets you in the mood. You may have heard that smelling the pheromones in sweat can make you want to ge