How exercise affects your brain

by Saree Jitta
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Four years ago I lost my dad, it’s the first time I truly lost my loved one. At the same time my seven year relationship ended, it was a big hit for me. If it’s the old me In probably went back to drinking and smoking but I’ve changed for the better. I didn’t want to just eat all day and felt guilty after it either, I wanted to get out of this miserable, depressed state. So, I started weight training. I was doing exercise here and there but not really as a lifestyle. I’ve noticed that after I sweat it out, I feel so much better. I thought this was amazing! Not only I feel good about myself, but my body started to look better as well.

In our modern society these days, people stress a lot about their life, relationships, financial situation, work etc. I believe exercise is the easiest and cheapest way to help you reduce stress so, I’ve started to study more how exercise can make you happy. Have you ever noticed why after you exercise, sweat it out at the gym, you feel better afterwards? That’s because exercise is good for your brain, not just for your body. Let’s say if you want to build your glutes, you have to flex them. Believe it or not getting busy working your glutes will also train your brain to get stronger. It increases yourd heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. The University of California, says that exercise increases growth factors in the brain which makes it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections. Yes, there are billions of neurones in our brain like a spiders web and they can keep growing! Sounds very scientific? Let me explain to you in a very simple way.

Some days you feel like you could kill someone at work. Sometimes you think your world is collapsing, or you can’t seem to stop eating. But then the next day you feel like you’re on top of the world, then you ask yourself – what’s happening? You don’t seem to understand yourself sometimes, well that might be because of the chemicals in your
brain (hormones) are playing games with you. These are chemicals in your brain that can make you happy or not so, if you have less.

Dopamine

It releases during pleasurable situation, it motivates you, when you feel unmotivated that’s because the dopamine level is very low. There’s this experiment, they switch off brain receptors in rats which reduce their dopamine levels, slowly the rats stop moving and just want to eat cheese. So next time you lose motivation and just want to sit in front of TV and eat your favourite ice cream, put on your sneakers and go for a walk. Because exercise can increase your dopamine level, so you can get your motivation back

Serotonin

Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilises our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone impacts your entire body. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion. When you feel sad, depressed or frustrated that might be because your serotonin is low that’s why anti depression medicine focus to help you increase serotonin. Studies have shown that exercise can help you increase serotonin.

Norepinephrine (or noradrenaline)

Helps with your attention, focus. High norepinephrine = sharp focus, low norepinephrine = dull and blah. Sometimes when I’m blocked, instead of sitting in front of my laptop, I’ll go to the gym and sweat it out. When I come back I
can be more creative.

Endorphins

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce our perception of pain. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to morphine (work as pain-killer.)

The magic pill is exercise

A few examples why I say exercise cures everything.

  • Exercise boots memory
    The part of the brain that responds strongly to aerobic exercise is called the hippocampus. Since the hippocampus is at the core of the brain’s learning and memory systems, it explains the memory-boosting effects of improved cardiovascular fitness.
  • Exercise increases concentration
    Exercise help you focus and stay on task longer. Better at multitasking, ignoring distractions, and processing complex information.
  • Exercise improves mental health
    Studies have shown that exercise seemed as effective as antidepressant drugs and psychological treatment to overcome depression.
  • Exercises enhances with creativity
    Next time you can’t think of the idea for your new project. Try go for a walk or on treadmill, surprisingly you might be able to surprise your boss and colleagues with these crazy ideas.
  • Exercise slows cognitive decline
    You don’t need to be a rat race at the gym to get this benefit, workouts don’t even need to be extreme, as long as you get your heart rate up a bit. Could be walking 30-45 minutes or weight lifting twice a week can have a good impact on your health.
  • Exercise improves circulation
    Exercise increases heart rate, so it helps deliver more oxygen and glucose to the brain to help with blood circulation.
  • Exercise helps learning and memory
    You don’t need to kill yourself at the gym, just moderate physical exercise like walking your dog in the park boosts memory functions and learning.
  • Exercise builds more brain cells
    Exercise prevents diseases

If you want to start exercise. I’d recommend two days strength training combined with 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise like walking, dancing or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise like hiking, running, cycling.
Bottom line any exercise is better than none exercise at all. Choose what you enjoy to develop an active living for a healthier lifestyle.

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