What Actually Happens in the Brain during Exercise?

Good morning Diamond Guru Fitness Enthusiasts,

Exercise causes our heart pressure to rise, which sends a signal to the brain that the body is under stress. In response, a protein releases into our body called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” (BDNF). This protein is a “reset switch” that repairs memory neurons. It makes thoughts seem clear after exercising and putting the body at ease.

Have fun and get results fast!
Have fun and get results fast!

At the same time, endorphins release into the brain. Endorphins to limit the degree of pain and discomfort associated with exercise. They even create a sense of euphoria. Like BDNF, endorphins release in response to the feeling of “stress” brought on by exercise. “Runner’s high” is the phrase coined to describe the surge of endorphins during exercise. They act as a natural anti-depressant.

The same antidepressant effect from a “runner’s high” which, results in a reduction in stress level hormones. A study conducted in Stockholm showed that running stimulates cell growth in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

How Exercise Affects Our Mind And Body

Together, BDNF and endorphins give us a “happy” feeling after exercise. These are somewhat addictive in nature. That is one reason why some people seem obsessed with exercising, although this “addiction” can be a healthy one.

Besides the short-term high from endorphins and BDNF, exercise also has long-term benefits. Studies show that people are happier and more productive throughout the day when they exercise. A Penn State study showed that people who had worked out within the previous month were happier and more productive at work. Compared to those who had not exercised (but not quite to the same degree as those who had worked out earlier that day). People who exercise on regular basis have much better moods than those who do not. As well, they have a stronger sense of calmness throughout the day.

Exercise affects the brain on various fronts. Not only does it increase heart rate that pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also facilitates the release of various hormones that provides an environment for the growth of brain cells.

A UCLA study showed that working out stimulates the growth of new neuronal connections. Imagine, new neuronal connections growing in a variety of important cortical areas of the brain.

How To Maximize The Benefits Of Exercise

20 Minutes

Based on this, you might think that professional athletes are the happiest people on the planet.

Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia research showed a need of only 20 minutes of exercise to reach peak level of productivity. Alternatively, to gain positive mood, and to facilitate information processing and memory functions. The key is to turn exercise into a habit.

Mental And Physical Connection

An important mental and physical connection exists that can increase the benefits of exercise. Some exercises integrate different parts of brain activity such as ballroom dancing. Dancing requires rhythm, strategy, coordination and thoughtfulness in movements stimulates cognitive health. In fact, much more than less complex workouts like running or cycling that do not engage diverse mental abilities as much.

Adding Exercise To Your Life

Working out in the morning before work or school helps to spike brain activity. It prepares you for stresses you may incur during your day. It allows for increased retention of new information and learning. It equips you to cope with complex situations that may arise.

Start-off easy – even just 5-10 minutes a day – and do a gradual increase the length and intensity of your workout. Going to a group or class at the gym makes exercising more fun, and it is a great way to learn new techniques and to meet new fitness minded people.

Try different exercises at home and outdoors in your neighborhood. You might try jogging, biking, strength training, etc. Variety is the spice of life, and the more you vary your routine the better for your motivation and your body.

Many apps on your smart phone can provide you with workout sets for all experience levels. Some even guide you through the exercises. Furthermore, apps like Map My Fitness and Nike enable you to track your progress. An excellent way to stay motivated as you watch yourself improve.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the health of your mind and body connects. Exercise is one of the best, if not the best way to improve mental and physical health in both the long-term and short-term.

The long-term benefits of regular exercise are immense. Exercise helps in reducing risk of disease, improving mental health, developing stronger body and muscles. As well as, the benefits that you will gain from reduced stress, improved digestion, improved blood circulation, and much more.

Even just going on a 20-minute daily walk is much better for you than staying sedentary. Find a Personal Trainer, training partner, set a schedule, do whatever you have to do to get those endorphins and BDNF proteins pumping as often as you can!

Stay Lean and Motivated!

The Diamond Guru

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