Going for a run is like getting a small dose of Prozac that helps “reboot” the brain, because exercise elevates these neurotransmitters. For this reason, exercise will pull you “out of a fog,” keep your brain in balance, and thus change your life for the better (Spark).
Exercise is good for your heart, but what about your brain?
John J. Ratey, author of Spark gives some great insight into how exercise can improve the function of your brain and the best kind of exercise that allow you to reap the most benefits.
The first article How Exercise Revs up Your Brain talks about the positive effects exercising has on the brain, aerobic exercise in particular. The writer mentions several studies that have been performed on a number of different subjects ranging from elderly patients, mice, and even children.
In each study, the subject’s brain activity, namely in the area involved with cognition and learning, was more activated after aerobic exercise. Not only were those areas improved, but actual brain cell growth was found in some cases.
Even more interesting is the fact that several chemicals were released after just 10 minutes of physical activity that helped to improve the mood and overall mental well being of the subject.
Research shows that 20-40 minutes of daily exercise (4-5 sessions a week), running, biking, swimming, lifting weights, using the stair master or treadmill, or walking-will reliably raise serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Exercise also boosts endorphins, which are responsible for decreasing pain and increasing pleasure.
The key is to find something you enjoy – start from there and then move forward – keep it simple and just get moving. Yes, your mood will improve, you will feel better and it can also decrease back and muscle pain.
The lone ranger approach is an option, however joining a group, taking a class and following a program can speed up the learning curve and make the process easier.
If you have any comments regarding the positive mental or physical benefits you feel from exercising please feel free to share.