The surprising health benefits of “leg day”

Leg day just took on a whole new importance with new research revealing that using your lower limbs can actually benefit the health of your nervous system.

A new study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience shows that using the legs, especially in weight-bearing exercise, “sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells, essential for the brain and nervous system”.

Meanwhile, reducing the amount of exercise you do can make it harder for the body’s production of new nerve cells which can impact our ability to cope with stress and handle challenges.

“Our study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises — such as patients who are bed-ridden, or even astronauts on extended travel — not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system is adversely impacted,” study author Dr. Raffaella Adami said.

“It is no accident that we are meant to be active: to walk, run, crouch to sit, and use our leg muscles to lift things.”

The researchers also found that cutting back on exercise lowered the amount of oxygen in the body, thereby creating an anaerobic environment and altering metabolism.

They also discovered an effect on the genes which account for the health of mitochondria which help release energy for the body to use.

The findings shine light on the impact of sedentary lifestyles on our health, along with diseases like multiple sclerosis and motor neuron diseases as examples.

It’s no revelation that exercise is good for us, but scientists continue to discover new ways it can benefit our health which is exciting stuff.

So, it’s more good news for anyone with an exercise habit, and a serious incentive to move for those who have yet to get active.

Do you incorporate a “leg day” into your fitness regime?




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Journo turned fitness professional, passionate about helping people to live a healthier and happier life! A long way from London, I now call Sydney home.

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