Proper exercise provides us with many benefits. The obvious ones are the physical change we observe as our muscles, bones and joints become stronger.
But there other, more subtle, powerful benefits received when exercising properly. The boost we feel emotionally and mentally after we’re finished tops this list.
Challenging exercise rejuvenates and invigorates us physically and mentally.
Many people hit the gym either first thing in the morning (to start their day in an empowered way. Others choose to go right after a stressful day at work (to clear the foggy, often negative, debris left behind in the mind).
When we don a pair of sneakers and get active, the sluggish and possibly negative attitude we left work with is suddenly transformed. Our mental health and cognitive functions – memory, perceptions, attention, learning and language skills all enjoy radical improvement. Our attitude is refreshed and reformed to go along with the changes enjoyed in our physical stature.
Why does it work?
What’s occuring in the background when we exercise that brings forth such positive results?
Exercise not only increases heart rate, but pumps more vital oxygen to the brain. This boosts the release of a variety of hormones that in turn, cause a marked change in our brains biochemistry.
There are many (possibly 100 or more!) neurotransmitters working in our brains carrying on a variety of functions. Neurons exchange chemical signals between one another that are responsible for how we think, feel and behave. Basically, they interpret our view of the world.
Dopamine, endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin are just four of the neurotransmitters with major roles in that “feel-good,” happiness attitude we enjoy.
Basically, endorphins work because their job is to produce pleasure by blocking pain. Serotonin, on the other hand, is the chemical empowered to produce pleasure on its own. Individuals lacking brain serotonin are often prescribed anti-depressant medications that work to boost serotonin levels. This helps lift them out of their depressive mood.
Depression is a serious issue. It is the leading cause of disability affecting approximately 300 million people worldwide.
Pharmaceuticals are one way to boost serotonin levels, however there are healthier, more natural ways to boost serotonin or endorphin levels. Not surprisingly, physical activity has proven to be a major player when it comes to increased levels of serotonin and endorphins.
Proper Exercise is Key –
Regular exercise is our best antidepressant. It reduces inflammation and oxidative stress (both contributors to depression), while increasing blood flow to the brain, neuronal plasticity and factors such as BDNF levels (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and telomere length (vitally important if you want to live a long healthy life!).
BDNF’s major role is promoting the survivability of brain neurons. This keeps our neurotransmitters messaging system healthy and humming nicely. Our memory, mood and ability to learn all benefit. And, guess what? Exercise is the best way to trigger the production of this valuable protein, BDNF.
Because so many experience “runners high” aerobic activity became the “go to” for many years as a relief for anxiety and depression. However, more recent studies indicate that strength training, long known for its ability to build and tone our muscles and strengthen bones, is really the major player in the fight against depression.
Strength training includes body-weight workouts and resistance band exercises along with free-weight workouts and exercise machines. Similar to a “runner’s high,” it releases a plethora of neurotransmitters, including endorphins. These work to clear brain fog, eliminate depression and lift our mood.
Strength training strengthens our physical muscles along with our mental muscle. Clarity and focus get a nice boost, allowing us to zone in and focus on whatever task is at hand.
This significantly increases our level of productivity and the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies it. We enjoy higher levels of success in allof life and our self-esteem and self-confidence soar.
Brain health matters no matter what age we are. It is one of the most important organs in our body and controls every aspect of our lives.
Lack motivation? –
Struggle with motivation? Remind yourself that exercise works on your body and your brain!
A healthy brain is essential for making healthy life choices. Healthy life choices are the main ingredient to healthy longevity – the gift of living a long and full life. The opposite is mental decline and eventual disability.
Don’t wait till mental decline rears its ugly head to act. Brain health is just as crucial as heart health. The choices we make daily either increase or decrease our brain health.
We are experiencing a positive shift towards brighter “health awareness.”
It is a good thing!
It’s time to adopt a preventive approach to personal health…
“Wellness Wake Up Call” can help you do just that…
For more tools and resources from Carolyn Hansen to assist you in attaining your health and fitness goals and achieving the success you desire in life, please visit: