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How Exercise Makes Us Happier

We’ve all heard that exercise releases endorphins in the brain, but do we really know what that means? This article by Joe Wildrich on Buffer, which I actually found on Lifehacker, explains how exercise makes us happier. He then explains that it’s not about becoming a marathon runner, but engaging in just 20 minutes a day, before you start your day. Countless studies have shown that this is the most effective time in terms of fueling your brain which will help you focus and be more productive for the day to come.

How Exercise Makes Us Happier

Exercise For FocusIf you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and like things are clear after exercising.

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain. Your endorphins main purpose are this, writes researcher MK McGovern:

“These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain, and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.”

Continue reading on Buffer

Hopefully that has clarified how exercise makes us happier – it certainly did for me. It was great advice to make exercise a habit, and as Joel suggested, to actually put your gym clothes over your alarm clock, so it’s easier to actually do the exercise first thing in the morning, rather than put it off until the evening, or tomorrow, or the next day. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so stick it out for those 21 days and it’ll become a natural part of your life and feel amazing for it. 20 minutes every day, it’s really not that hard to fit in! I actually believe that our brains are half asleep when we don’t exercise regularly. If you think about how great you feel after exercise, how clear your mind becomes and how you feel you can tackle anything, I wonder how people can function at all without it.

 

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How Exercise Feeds The Brain

We all know that exercise is a basic requirement for our main organs to function properly, and most people have heard that exercise is excellent in alleviating stress, anxiety, to lift your mood, keep fit, help you concentrate and focus etc. There is more evidence that shows how exercise feeds the brain, and that’s its ability to improve memory, cognitive ability, and slow down or prevent dementia.  This article from by Meg Selig for Psychology Today, explains how recent research has presented all of the above findings.

How Exercise Feeds Your Brain

Exercise Feeds Your Brain1.  Exercise and memory smarts. Exercise guru Gretchen Reynolds reports here that when a group of 120 older men and women followed either a walking program or were part of a control group, the walkers performed better on cognitive tests and regained volume in the hippocampus—a part of the brain responsible for memory, certain types of learning, and the genesis of new brain cells. A typical 65-year-old walker developed the hippocampus of a 63-year-old.  My new goal: A youthful hippocampus!

2.  Exercise and name/face recognition.  In this study, after just 30 minutes of exercise, exercisers were better able to recall names and faces than volunteers who sat quietly for 30 minutes. This ability would come in handy in reducing those embarrassing I-know-I-know-you-but-who-are-you moments.

Continue reading on Psychology Today

So if you’re not regularly exercising already, hopefully these findings on how exercise feeds the brain will entice you to do so. I think not exercising, is like trying to run a car without maintaining it. It’ll be fine for a while, but soon enough the engine will become sluggish, and gradually, over time, parts will start to fail. It’s so important to exercise. It doesn’t even have to be strenuous but regular exercise is imperative.

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Exercise Feeds Your Brain

If you’re regular on this blog (or indeed if you’re not) hopefully by now you’ll have understood that exercise is essential for your brain.  Exercise feeds your brain.  It is common knowledge, yet a lot of people do not prioritise it in their every day life.  Here we can take a look at a slightly more scientific approach and evaluate what happens with glycogen (which causes fat storage) and the brain. Don’t worry, no animals were hurt in this experiment (I can’t back that up).

After the single session on the treadmill, the animals were allowed to rest and feed, and then their brain glycogen levels were studied. The food, it appeared, had gone directly to their heads; their brain levels of glycogen not only had been restored to what they had been before the workout, but had soared past that point, increasing by as much as a 60 percent in the frontal cortex and hippocampus and slightly less in other parts of the brain. The astrocytes had “overcompensated,” resulting in a kind of brain carbo-loading. The levels, however, had dropped back to normal within about 24 hours.  Click here to visit the original source of the article.

If may be that you need to read this article a couple of times to fully understand it, but the overall result of these experiments was that exercise feeds your brain to a high degree, and without it, your brain will suffer. I actually added that last part, but it’s true. I’ve read it everywhere! There’s a post on this blog called Exercise For A Healthy Brain which you may wish to read (and comment on).

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