Exercise makes you happy. It's a proven fact. It helps your brain in other ways too; there's a reason why athletes can seem like the calmest and happiest people around.
It's not just the bucket loads of money that's making them smile. Exercising benefits your brain in lots of positive ways.
Stress creates hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Tight muscles, chest pain and nausea are all among the many physical symptoms of stress. Exercise is a scientifically proven method of stress-busting. It releases soothing brain chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These all help to calm athletes and ease stress.
Go ahead! (the biscuit brand) conducted a nationwide survey and found that the number one feel-good moment in the country was going for a stroll in the sunshine. Although not the most scientific of research, it adds to the argument that exercise makes you feel good. Even just going for a walk can clear your mind and distract you from your thoughts. At the same time it helps to keep your fitness in check.
Aerobic exercise increases the blood flow to the brain, which in turn delivers more oxygen to it. The more oxygen your brain can take on the higher degree it can function and process at. It can help boost memory and improve regions of the brain where functions include planning and organisation. Exercising can also speed up the metabolism of glucose which helps to improve mental recall. This all probably attributes to Marion Bartoli's Einstein beating IQ of 175.
The most common mental health problem in Britain is mixed anxiety and depression. Research shows that exercise can help to ease symptoms. Feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins get released when exercising. Endorphins reduce your perception of pain and create a sort of euphoric feeling, creating a ‘runners high’. They make athletes feel good and balanced. Exercise can also help to boost self-esteem and confidence.
Scientists at Northwestern University have looked into the effects that exercise has on sleep. They found that through exercise, participants improved their sleep quality from poor to good. It’s a simple fix. Sleep is a key factor in leading a healthy lifestyle and poor sleeping habits are often linked to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Usain Bolt supposedly sleeps 8-10 hours per night and he is seemingly very happy.
Exercise can be seen as an important factor in the prevention of dementia. According to a study conducted by Cambridge University one hour of exercise per week could reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s by almost half. Another recent study found that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults can be associated with an enhanced brain structure. This makes for delays in cognitive decline and prolonged independent function.
Exercise can make you happy, clever, confident and less stressed. The exceptional sports people of the world have an awful lot to be feeling good about. Not only are their bodies fighting fit, but their brains are switched on too. Get going with your workout and you can feel just as fantastic.
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Photo Credits: bbc.co.uk, tennisworldusa.org, telegraph.co.uk, usatoday.com