Most people who begin a fitness program are doing it for some type of physical health and/or aesthetic reason, and that’s great, but I believe far more people should begin exercising for the mental health benefits that exercise. It’s true that where the mind goes the body will follow, and vice versa. When you think about it, exercise is a pretty good bang for your time buck when you consider a workout only needs to be about 30 minutes per day to start building the following brain-boosting benefits.
Thinking and Memory Enhancement
Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. If you talk to anyone who’s spent legitimate time in and out of an exercise routine, they will for sure tell you that they were overall sharper when in routine versus out. Many people experience something similar from making reading a part of their routine, unfortunately, reading doesn’t reap the same physical rewards since the obvious lack of movement. Reading while working out?… we might be onto something if it can be done without a trip to the hospital.
A common theory is that better fitness can help your brain buffer the effects of things that stress you out. After all, life is 10% what actually happens to you and 90% how you react to it… right? I absolutely love that quote but don’t know who originally said it. Anyway – improved confidence can translate to helping you in most other areas of your life, including the self-assurance needed to stay on track, deflecting negativity, and resistance temptation. Practical applications could be –though– are not limited to:
- Confronting that backyard neighbor about their barking dog
- Asking your coffee shop crush out on a date
- Discussing with your supervisor that raise you deserve at work
Did you fill in the blank?
One Affects Another
Neurotrophins are chemicals that help to stimulate and control neurogenesis (the growth and development of neural tissue), BDNF being one of the most active. It turns out this BDNF has a whole host of proven benefits, including regulating sleep, reducing stress, and increasing energy metabolism. Want to guess what one of the best ways to increase BDNF is? Yep. Exercise. This might be one of the key ‘bridges’ between the specifics of why exercise is good for so many things. Every muscle action starts with a nerve impulse, so it’s no wonder that these things are all connected!
If you’ve been struggling to stay afloat mentally or maybe just need a jumpstart, try incorporating some form of structured/planned physical activity for 30 to 60 minutes on most –if not all– days of the week. We know about about the whole host of physical benefits, but we’re just scraping the surface of the psychological benefits. Build a workout routine you enjoy with training your brain in mind.
Looking for professional assistance in doing so? This article’s author Ben Palocko is a master’s degreed and nationally accredited exercise physiologist who lives in Cleveland, OH and runs his own online training and health coaching business. His methods are built on the power of habit, positivity, and the accountability to develop consistency and make fitness a part of everyone’s life. Contact him on his website to ask about downloading his app to begin working together.
Photo Credit: Pexels.com