We know exercise is good for us, but it’s not until we REALLY understand the benefits it has on us until we start making it a real PRIORITY in our life.
A large body of research on humans demonstrated that consistent aerobic exercise (e.g 30 minutes everyday) can have long term positive effects on our brains. This could be walking, running, cycling, swimming etc.
Exercise has the ability to improve our cognitive ability, thinking skills, and increase our memory and improve our mental state and wellbeing. Have you ever gone for a run on your lunch break to find your focus and ability to work has improved? Oh, and you also feel more positive, motivated and happier than you did before the run?
So what’s actually happening when we exercise?
Increased BDNF (Brain – Derived Neurotrophic Factor)
BDNF is a protein that helps to support the survival of existing neutrons, and encourages the growth and differentiation of new neutrons and synapses which help to process important information. BDNF is vital to learning, memory, and higher thinking. Back in the day movement was a signal to the brain that something important was happening like finding shelter, fleeing a predator, hunting for food etc. and while moving it was important to remember the lay of the land, so therefore increased levels of BDNF which in turn helps with brain function.
Secretion of Endorphins
Endorphins are neurotransmitters, or natural opiate-peptide chemicals, that pass along signals from one neutron to the next, causing feelings or emotions. When we exercise endorphins are released in our bodies which greatly improves our mood and counters many symptoms of depression. The endorphins released during exercise reduce your perception of pain, they affect the same receptors in the brain that are used by many medications. This is described to give you a ‘euphoric’ feeling and helps to boost your overall mental wellbeing and mood.
These two above alone are pretty important reasons to make exercise a priority, no? That’s not to mention all the other benefits exercise has on our brains like better quality sleep, reducing stress, anxiety etc.
So I hope I have managed to convince you how important all this exercise malarky is!
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