Is exercise good for the brain? Five ways you can be certain

 "We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing", stated George Bernard Shaw. Did you ever have trouble concentrating? Do you often forget what you studied? Do you have memory problems? And do you often experience mood swings, sluggishness, and laziness? Are you bad at organizing things and being poised?

If your answer to at least one of the above questions is 'yes', this article is specially made for you. Perhaps, your solution might lie here.

In this article, we shall look into ways in which exercise improves the functioning of our brains and many more facts pertinent to this respect.


Why Exercise?

Exercise helps not only your body but also your brain. In fact, exercise affects your brain more than any other part of your body. It has a humongous power in changing the trajectory of your life. Millions of people went on succeeding in life, after welcoming the omnipotence of exercise into their lives. And sundry other neuroscientists have dedicated their entire lives to preaching the significance of exercise and physical activity. Wendy Suzuki, a Neuroscientist, says, "Simply moving your body has immediate, long-lasting, and protective benefits for your brain. And that can last for the rest of your lives". She adds, "Exercise actually changes the anatomy, physiology, and function of your brain".

1. Exercise has immediate benefits

Exercise has astounding immediate benefits albeit transient along with the long-term ones. It helps in releasing neurotransmitters like Dopamine, Serotonin, and Noradrenaline which enable a better mood, energy, and attention. These neurotransmitters play a vital role in our lives often controlling our emotions. 

Dopamine is the reason why you feel motivated while doing certain tasks. It works on the reward-based mechanism. The absence of dopamine makes you feel unmotivated, trapping you in ennui, which ain't good. In a study, dopamine production in the brain of a laboratory mouse was totally restrained. Astonishingly, the mouse turned so lazy and inactive that it chose to starve to death rather than move to acquire food.
Fortunately, exercise can help regulate the dopamine levels in our body making us motivated to do what we love. 

Not only that, it can improve your attention span making it much deeper and longer. In a 2007 study, it was found that people learned vocabulary words 20% faster right after exercise compared to when they remained sedentary with no exercise. 
It also lightens your mood making you exuberant and cheerful.

2. Exercise develops new brain cells

 Exercise impacts the Hippocampus and the Prefrontal cortex of our brain. Hippocampus is a part of the brain associated with memory and the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain involved in decision-making, executive functions, planning, etc.
 This suggests that exercise has a direct impact on your long-term memory. It makes you remember things better by enabling improved coordination. Research suggests that in memory tests, exercisers are faster and more accurate compared to non-exercisers. 
Not only that, exercise helps develop new brain cells in the Hippocampus and the Prefrontal cortex. Isn't it spectacular?

Alvaro Leone, MD, professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School suggests that by having a stronger prefrontal cortex, we have better control over our emotions and impulses. 

Plato rightly quoted, "In order for a man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection".

3. Exercise makes you immune from Neurodegenerative diseases

Fast forward into the future, imagine a 60-year-old you, rocking in your chair, remembering nothing, stumbling at things, and losing your memories.
Doesn't sound good, right?
The Hippocampus and the Prefrontal cortex are the most vulnerable to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Dementia, Parkinson's disease, etc.

If you wish to be immune from developing such traumatic conditions, start exercising today. As previously mentioned, exercise not only helps develop new brain cells in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex but also increases their volume making them much stronger. The more you sweat, the stronger they get making you almost impervious to neurodegenerative diseases.

4. Exercise increases your life span and reduces depression and stress

15 minutes of physical activity a day can increase your life span by as much as 3 years. Stunning. Isn't it? If you are someone who wishes to live longer, you should definitely opt for it. As suggested by Eli Puterman, exercise improves the quality and quantity of our lives.
A study from the American Cancer Society shows that those who walked 6 hours per week have a lower risk of dying from Cardiovascular diseases, Respiratory diseases, and cancer than those who don't.

Neurotransmitters produced due to exercise can alleviate depression, stress, anxiety, and other crippling conditions. Dr. John Ratey, the author of the book Spark, says that exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac( Anti-depressant) and a little bit of Ritalin( a drug used in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). 

5. Exercise improves BDNF

BDNF stands for Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It's a kind of protein that helps improve the functioning of existing neurons, encourages new neurons to grow, and protects them from stress and cell damage. According to John Ratey, BDNF is a 'miracle grow for the brain'. Exercise helps improve your BDNF levels. Aerobic exercises like Running, Swimming, Cycling, etc can aid in improving BDNF.

When, where, and how to start?

You can exercise whenever you want depending on your schedule. But, early morning would be preferably better to maximize the benefits of your exercise.
Choose a place that allows you to stretch your arms and legs without colliding with things. Choose attire that helps you be flexible.
You neither have to enroll in a gym nor have to purchase expensive equipment. You can kick off from wherever you are. You can refer to various sources online and offline to get more info about the same. 30-45 minutes of exercise, 3-4 times a week is an ideal routine that can be followed by anyone without much difficulty.

In life, there are umpteen sources and things to reap benefits from. They are waiting to be found. By you. Access them. And once you incorporate them into your life, things change for the better. As rightly suggested by Dale Carnegie, our problem is not ignorance but inaction. Overcome your physical reluctance and mental inertia. 

Hope my article, 'Is exercise good for the brain?  Five ways you can be certain', is of assistance. 

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