4 reasons exercise is more powerful than (almost) any medication you can take

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Photo: Tim Gibson for Well+Good

Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. But, it turns out that exercise isn’t just good for you, it’s the best medicine. (Sorry, laughter.)

According to new research, even small amounts of movement have been proven to solve a bevy of medical issues, as well as prolong life and keep you looking younger longer, Time magazine reports. Sounds like Sister Madonna Buder is on to something.

“There is no pill that comes close to what exercise can do,” says Claude Bouchard, director of the human genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. “And if there was one, it would be extremely expensive.” (BRB, gonna go for a quick run.)

Most of you are probably already on top of your daily workout routines, but maybe this new research will change your mind next time that Gilmore Girls binge-a-thon is calling your name?

Scroll down to see four ways exercise can improve your health that you might not already know.

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Photo: Kate Shill Gardner by TIm Gibson for Well+Good
Photo: Kate Shill Gardner by TIm Gibson for Well+Good

1. It helps you age more slowly

Exercise has been shown to lengthen lifespan by as much as five years, Time reports, but it also slows down the actual aging of cells. How do researchers know that? By looking at telomeres, which are the protective caps on your DNA, and as Cameron Diaz explains in The Longevity Book, they shrink as you get older. But a recent study showed that exercise increases levels of a molecule that protects telomeres, which may keep your cells (and you) in a more youthful state.

Photo: Tamara Pridgett by Tim Gibson for Well+Good
Photo: Tamara Pridgett by Tim Gibson for Well+Good

2. It gives you gorgeous skin

Ever notice that perfect, no-blush glow you have right after your outdoor run? That’s not just in your head—your skin is proven to look better post-sweating. According to Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, aerobic exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering oxygen and nutrients that can improve skin health and help wounds heal faster: “That’s why when people have injuries, they should get moving as quickly as possible,” Hackney says. “Not only to make sure the muscle doesn’t atrophy, but to make sure there’s good blood flow to the skin.”

Photo: Tim Gibson for Well+Good
Photo: Tim Gibson for Well+Good

3. It can work more quickly than medication

While typical medication often requires a few days or weeks to fully take effect, exercise is an instant-gratification technique. Emerging research suggests it can give you benefits after one minute a day. Martin Gibala, an exercise physiologist at McMaster University in Ontario, and his team tested a 10-minute workout against a 50-minute workout—and the results proved to be equal. So here’s to short bursts (and more time in your day).

Photo: Amanda Butler by Tim Gibson for Well+Good
Photo: Amanda Butler by Tim Gibson for Well+Good

4. It can aid with inflammation

In other words: Bye, bloating. “One of the benefits of exercise training is that our cardiovascular system gets stronger and better at delivering oxygen, so we are able to metabolize more fat as an energy source,” Hackney says. As a result, your fat cells—which produce the substances responsible for chronic low-grade inflammation—shrink, and so does inflammation. Anything to rid us of that dreaded bloat.

Now that you know all the benefits, what are you waiting for? If you’re ready to seriously sweat (but get results fast), try this five-minute plank challenge. Or take advice from your favorite celebs with their cheekiest moves for your best butt.

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