More than just body, brain benefits from exercise in these 5 ways!
You already know that exercise is a great way to burn fat and can improve things like sleep quality and can build strength in bones and joints, but did you know that exercise has a wealth of benefits when it comes to mental well-being?
Studies have shown that exercise has both mental and physical health benefits and can even attribute to longevity (1). Exercise benefits come in all shapes and sizes, and the brain is one that sees many.
Dr. Ellen Clarke, founder of Brain Evolved, said, “Although there is no clear consensus on how exactly how exercise exerts its benefits on the brain, there are two main theories. The first, and most popular, involves the creation of new blood sources in the brain. Second, some scientists believe that exercise results in an increase in specific molecules, which results in improved brain performance.”
1) It’s a natural mood booster
It’s been assessed that regular exercise can improve your mood and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression (2). A certain well-known movie starring Reese Witherspoon gave us the phrase “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy,” which is true in that exercise increases endorphin productions, thus producing feelings of positivity (1). Work out anywhere with these moves in which even Elle Woods would approve (probably).
2) It can improve your memory
If you have ever had one of those days where you have difficulty remembering the slightest thing, your workout regimen might be to blame. Regular exercise is especially important in older adults since aging influences changes in brain activity and function (3). The hippocampus, a part of the brain that is crucial to memory and learning, can grow in size due to regular physical activity, therefore increasing mental stimulation in elderly adults (4). Working regular exercise into your routine can quite literally “jog” your memory.
3) It helps increase blood flow
Sore muscles? No problem! A quick workout can help. The brain is often what triggers inflammation, and inflammation is typically the cause of many diseases and exercise helps to reduce inflammation at the onset (5). Who would have thought that a bit of exercise can help reduce discomfort?
4) It can reduce stress
The next time you feel overwhelmed with work, keeping up with your social calendar, or simply just feel stressed out, try a quick workout to put your mind at ease. People who regularly exercise will likely experience reductions in stress and anxiety than those who do not (6). Studies have shown that maintaining regular exercise is associated with lower neuroticism, anxiety and depression (6).
5) It may have anti-aging effects
Did you know that exercise benefits include having transverse effects on aging? Ensuring you’re getting enough exercise could be the key to reducing the signs of aging; research has shown that genes regulated by exercise include those related to protein processing, immune system, metabolism, and anti-aging (7).
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(1) Anderson, Elizabeth, and Geetha Shivakumar. “Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety.” Frontiers in Psychiatry4 (2013): n. pag. Web.
(2) Ensari, Ipek, Brian M. Sandroff, and Robert W. Motl. “Effects of Single Bouts of Walking Exercise and Yoga on Acute Mood Symptoms in People with Multiple Sclerosis.” International Journal of MS Care18.1 (2016): 1-8. Web.
(3) Kirk-Sanchez, Neva, and Ellen Mcgough. “Physical exercise and cognitive performance in the elderly: current perspectives.” Clinical Interventions in Aging(2013): 51. Web.
(4) Jackson, Philippa A., Vincent Pialoux, Dale Corbett, Lauren Drogos, Kirk I. Erickson, Gail A. Eskes, and Marc J. Poulin. “Promoting brain health through exercise and diet in older adults: a physiological perspective.” The Journal of Physiology594.16 (2016): 4485-498. Web.
(5) Godman, Heidi. “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills.” Harvard Health Blog. N.p., 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
(6) Moor, M.h.m. De, A.l. Beem, J.h. Stubbe, D.i. Boomsma, and E.j.c. De Geus. “Regular exercise, anxiety, depression and personality: A population-based study.” Preventive Medicine42.4 (2006): 273-79. Web.
(7) Cotman, C. “Exercise: a behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity.” Trends in Neurosciences25.6 (2002): 295-301. Web.