If your workout is good for your body, you can bet it’s also great for your brain. Studies show a key to mental and physical health is exercise. Whether you enjoy yoga, running, weightlifting, swimming or other forms of training; exercise can help you feel more positive, balanced and focused.
Physiologically, exercise increases blood flow throughout your body. This means better oxygenation for all of your organs, including your brain. Also, anytime you challenge your body to move through space, you build synapses in your brain which leads to cognitive gains. American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness Pro Pete McCall writes that “exercise elevates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotransmitter that can stimulate the production of new brain cells.” A growing brain is more mentally acute, which means clearer thinking, better focus and the potential for improved mood.
If that’s not enough to convince you to try regular exercise as a means to positive thinking and feeling, consider the other ways exercise has been shown to make people feel better adjusted.
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4 Big Benefits of Exercise
1) Improved Self-esteem
All types of exercise give you the chance to set achievable goals. Whether it’s perfecting a lunge, shaving a few seconds off of your mile time or nailing a mambo-pivot in a dance routine; accomplishing a task is empowering and allows you to pat yourself on the back, look forward and set another goal. As you achieve physical goals, your confidence grows. You’ll be more focused on the “can do’s” rather than the “cannots.” This means you’re less apt to get stuck in ruts and negative thinking.
2) Stress Relief
Exercise decreases stress, especially if you choose an activity you like! Play is joyful. But, it’s more scientific than that. When you exercise, endorphins and neurotransmitters are stimulated. This leaves you less tense after training. ACE notes, “clinicians have measured a decrease in electrical activity of tensed muscles. People have been less jittery and hyperactive after an exercise session.”
3) Better Sleep
If nervousness invades your brain when your head hits the pillow, exercise can help. Better sleep equates to better moods for many people. When you sleep, the National Institute of Health suggests your brain renews itself as you sleep and might flush itself of toxins. Applying yourself in the gym will make you more physically tired and more apt to sleep through the night so your body and mind can refresh.
4) Positive pay pals
Exercise provides opportunities to connect with others through classes, partner workouts, races, fitness challenges and more. Social connections can shelter individuals from loneliness and negative thinking. Plus, having a workout partner or two will increase the likelihood you’ll stick with your body/brain fitness routine.
Exercise might not be a cure-all for all mental illnesses. But, studies show for most individuals exercise is an easy way to boost the brain for better moods and more positive thinking.