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Better hearing, less constipation and other surprising benefits of exercise

Retired army members take part in a laughing yoga session ahead of 2017 World Laughing Day. Studies have shown that mirthful laughter, the kind that stems from real joy, relieves stress, lightens mood and confers health benefits.
Photos: Would you try these weird workouts?
Stephanie Moser, second from right, hoops during an evening hooping class in Pittsburgh. Hula hooping has become hip again, with clubs across the US bringing together hoop aficionados and DVDs incorporating hoops as a way to fight obesity.
Photos: Would you try these weird workouts?
Atiya Hodges, center, teaches a pole dancing class at Taboo Dance & Fitness in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Experts say the class is a demanding one that requires skill and technique, which in turn uses energy.
Photos: Would you try these weird workouts?
People enjoy aerial yoga using hammocks suspended from the ceiling in Tokyo. The trend is also called antigravity yoga.
Photos: Would you try these weird workouts?
Trampolining is another class gaining popularity, promising an active and intense workout.
Photos: Would you try these weird workouts?
Women practice swimming with mermaid tails at AquaMermaid swimming school in Chicago. Fitness experts believe any class engaging people in long-lost passions or curiosities will benefit the health of a population.
Photos: Would you try these weird workouts?
Goat yoga participants try to stay in a yoga pose as a young goat walks over them at the Welcome Home Ranch in Arizona.
Photos: Would you try these weird workouts?

(CNN)Periodically, we see reports that scientists are closer to developing a pill that would mimic the benefits of exercise.

The truth is that no medication or supplement even comes close to exercise for being able to do so much for so many people — or probably ever will.

While we’ve all heard that regular exercise can improve heart health and strengthen muscles, it can also enhance the quality of your life in a number of ways. Five such benefits may surprise you.

The headline of a survey by the National Sleep Foundation said it best: “Exercise is good for sleep.” In the poll of 1,000 people, those who exercised the most vigorously reported the best sleep quality overall. And they were less likely than non-exercisers to say that in the past two weeks, they had experienced problems such as trouble falling asleep or waking during the night.

These findings are supported by a review of 66 studies on exercise and sleep. It concluded that regular exercise is comparable to sleep medication or behavioral therapy in improving the ability to fall asleep, as well as sleep duration and quality.

Tips for better sleep

Researchers aren’t sure why, but they suspect that physical activity may help by affecting body temperature, metabolic rate, heart rate or anxiety level, among other things.

Because exercise also revs up your body, conventional wisdom has it that exercising in the evening can interfere with sleep. But research in young adults as well as older people has failed to support this assertion.

Of course, everyone is different, so it’s possible that nighttime exercise may make it harder for you to sleep. But the only way to know is to try. You may be pleasantly surprised at what a little pre-bedtime sweat can do for your…

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