A Moment of Science

Healing Exercise

You may think that resting is the good for letting your body heal, but exercise might actually be best. Find out why!

colorful bandaids in a slanted row

Photo: Mimi_K (flickr)

Regular exercise seems to speed healing.

Next time you get a paper cut, go to the gym!

Regular exercise seems to speed healing. In a small preliminary study involving adults 55 to 77 years of age, the participants were inflicted with minor wounds on one of their arms. Thirteen of the participants exercised an hour daily. The other 15 were sedentary. The 13 who exercised healed in about 29 days, 10 days faster than the sedentary group.

Small study or not, 10 days seems pretty sizable. Scientists aren’t sure why exercise may speed healing.

It may be that exercise stimulates the immune system. Also, exercise reduces stress, and that alone may be the reason it helps people heal faster. Stress can impede blood circulation, slowing down the delivery of oxygen to a wound. Oxygen is an important component in the healing process. Reducing stress helps get the blood circulating oxygen more efficiently, speeding healing. This is good reason to believe that exercise may speed recovery from more serious wounds such as surgery or accidents, but only more research will tell.

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