10 Things that happen to your brain when you exercise
If you thought that exercise was what you did to lose weight and gain muscle, then you’d only be half right. You already know that exercise is good for you and that it can help you to live a long and active life, and you’ve probably heard that exercise releases the feel-good hormone, endorphins, into your body, that can help cheer you up, but the effects that exercise has on the brain are far wider reaching, than simply putting a temporary smile on your face. If you don’t already exercise regularly, read these ten things that happen to your brain when you do exercise and it might just change your mind.
1. It improves your memory
Exercise gets the blood pumping around your body and that improves the oxygen supply to your brain. The increased blood flow gives the memory a boost, and studies have proven that brain volume is increased after a workout. Patients in one particular study were found to be able to do 10 to 15 percent better in memory tests after they had exercised.
2. It improves your reaction times
It turns out exercise can speed up your reaction times too. This means that you can process data, analyse it quicker, and come to decisions much faster, in any type of situation. In tests, researchers found that students who took a thirty minute run before an exam reacted faster to questions and answered questions in less time.
3. It makes you more disciplined
When you follow a regular workout regime, it teaches you to be more disciplined and you are more likely to stick to your goals. Researchers think that, because something like cardio takes a lot of effort and consistency, it trains the brain to apply the same discipline to other tasks as well.
4. It makes you happy
You’ve, no doubt, heard that exercise can cheer you up, but the effect that exercise has on your mood can be quite dramatic. Exercise increases the levels of number of feel good neurotransmitters and endorphins, including serotonin, noradrenalin and endorphins. Endorphins are actually related to morphine and that is why people experience the “runners high”.
5. It increases your attention span
If you have trouble concentrating on one thing for very long, then try taking more exercise. Aerobic exercise has been proven to cause significant increases in people’s attention span. That increased ability to be able to focus on something for longer, is not only noticeable straight after a workout, it also has a long term effect as well.
6. It can prevent cognitive disorders
Exercise is also believed to have a major role to play in the development of cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Taking exercise is known to increase the levels of something known as brain-derived neutrotrophic factor, or NDHF, which helps to take care of, and to generate, nerve cells in adults.
7. Exercise is good for kids’ brains too
Don’t think that all of these great things, that exercising can do for the brain are just reserved for the oldies, because children will benefit from more exercise too. We already know that a lot of kids don’t get enough exercise toady, but exercise could help them perform better at school, as well as keep them fit and healthy. Children who do just 10-15 minutes of exercise daily will experience an increase in both concentration and attention span.
8. It can be used to treat depression
A dose of exercise can be just as effective in alleviating depression, as a dose of antidepressants can be. The effect of exercise on patients suffering from depression is so marked that the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre even issued guidelines to doctors for the recommended dosage of exercise, to be used in conjunction with antidepressants, for the optimum effect.
9. It beats stress
It’s also well known that exercise can help to combat the effect of stress. This is not simply down to exercise taking your mind off your problems, tests have shown that exercise increases the size of the hippocampus in the brain, which is the part of the brain believed to be responsible for protecting us against the destructive impact of stress.
10. It might also make you more imaginative
Early results of research suggest that the hippocampus is also what gives us the ability to imagine what the future might hold for us. Imagination of this kind is important, because it allows us to weigh up the pros and cons of decisions that we make. If we can improve the functioning of the hippocampus with exercise, we could also improve our decision making.
Do you know other benefits of exercise?
Stay happy and healthy!