Exercise is recommended as the cure for almost everything – from depression, fatigue and of course for fitness. It’s recommended for glowing skin and a better night’s sleep too. And let’s not forget all the obvious physical health benefits like a trimmer waistline, building more muscle and increased stamina. But one of the coolest things about exercise is the positive effect it has on your mood.
Most of us are aware of the physical benefits when we exercise. But when it comes to our brain and mood the connection isn’t always so clear. We’ve all heard about the feel-good chemical called Endorphins swimming around our brains. But how is it linked to exercise?
Here’s what happens… When you start exercising your heart rate increases and your brain identifies this as a moment of stress.
To protect you from that stress your body releases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and reparative element on your memory neurons.
At the same time endorphins, a group of stress fighting hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system are released in your brain.These endorphins minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and create a feeling of happiness or euphoria.
All this stuff going on inside our brain and nervous system is why we often feel so at ease, mentally relaxed and happy after exercising. Therefore it’s not surprise that exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health.
The best part is that you don’t have to make big lifestyle changes to reap these benefits. Research states that even a small amount of exercise (30 minutes a day) can make a difference. No matter your age or personal fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to improve your overall health and mood.
Lifestyle benefits of exercise
People who exercise on a regular basis do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. Here are a few lifestyle benefits of exercising.
Improved Memory – The same endorphins that create a feeling of happiness also help you to concentrate and be mentally focused. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent the declines in mental functions associated with aging.
Greater Self-Esteem– Regular activity is an investment in your mind and body. When done often, it becomes a habit that improves your sense of self-worth and makes you feel strong and ready to take on any challenge. You start to feel better about your appearance, and by crushing your exercise goals (even small ones) you’ll feel a sense of achievement.
Better sleep–Exercising in the morning or afternoon helps to regulate your sleep patterns. But if you prefer to exercise at night, non-strenuous exercises like yoga, Pilates or even gentle stretching can help to promote sleep.
Increased energy – Increasing your heart rate with exercise several times a week will increase your metabolism and give you more energy. Even if you start with just a few minutes of exercise a day, you can gradually increase the length of your workout as you start to feel more energized.
Better resilience– When faced with life’s mental and emotional challenges, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way. Better than any sugar-high, regular exercise boosts your immune system and reduces the impact of stress.
No matter what form of physical activity you choose, whether you go jogging, take up a sport or join a gym– being active is better than not being active. Exercise is good for your brain and your body. And it’s guaranteed way to increase your happiness and reduce stress at the same time.
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