We all know that exercising is healthy and beneficial to our bodies. However, did you know that fitness can also help you deal with various health conditions and even improve your mental abilities?
Busy or not, everyone should take some of their time to get engaged in physical exercises on a daily basis. Brain, along with other muscles in the human body, has to be exercised regularly to stay in good shape.
Fitness can help your brain by fighting depression and anxiety, and by boosting your cognitive abilities. It also helps by reducing stress levels and managing insulin. Last but not least, regular physical exercises slow down the aging process and encourage production of new brain cells.
1. It Fights Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are two different conditions with similar negative effects on human health. They are capable of reducing the brain's ability of information processing. They also cause concentration and memory issues and can progress and become more severe. It is estimated by World Health Organization that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. A study conducted in the U.S. shows that 18.1% of adults suffer from anxiety.
One of the most effective ways to counter depression and anxiety is physical exercising. During physical activities, the production of brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin increases. These chemicals encourage happy mood. Furthermore, exercise also boosts the supply of endorphins, chemicals responsible for providing a satisfactory feeling. To combat depression and anxiety in the long-term, creating a workout plan is suggested. The most important thing is to stay active on a daily basis. This will help you ensure that you don't drift away from the right path.
2. It Increases Insulin Sensitivity
As you eat food, the hormone insulin triggers the process in which glucose enters our body cells. Once glucose enters the cells, it can be transported throughout the body, including to the brain. Glucose is the main source of body fuel and is vital for all body processes. Sadly, the cells of certain people develop insulin resistance which prevents glucose entering the cells efficiently. As the amount of glucose in cells is insufficient, the body keeps producing more and more of it. This condition often results in type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind that whether a person has diabetes or not, insulin resistance has negative effects on the brain.
Luckily, regular physical exercises are capable of reversing the effects of insulin resistance. Each properly conducted exercise session can increase your insulin sensitivity for up to a day. This means that your blood sugar will be temporarily stabilized.
While fitness greatly contributes to brain and body health, it alone is not enough. Keep in mind that applying healthy eating habits is mandatory as well.
3. It Improves Cognitive Abilities
Cognitive brain abilities allow us to work on complex tasks such as organizing, thinking, and memorizing. They are also known as the executive functions and can be strengthened by regular physical activities. It has been proven by numerous researches that fitness improves cognitive abilities of a person by up to 4 times.
Furthermore, regular physical exercises also help you focus and react better to various situations. As the heart rate and blood flow increase during physical exercise, brain functions such as memorizing are also improved. In one particular study, the researchers found out that the participants performed from 10 to 15 percent better in memory exercises after physical exercise in comparison to how they performed before the exercise.
4. It Reduces Stress and Its Effects
One of the main reasons why so many people do fitness is because it helps them reduce stress. There are various stress triggers such as financial and health issues that cause both physical and mental stress. Physical exercise can solve both at the same time. All that one has to do is convert the stress, anxiety, or anger into physical form in order to get rid of it. One common way to do that is by going on a long run.
Furthermore, as we are stressed, our body releases hormones, such as cortisol, which slow down our cognitive abilities. Exercising is proven to lower cortisol levels and therefore allowing us to think straight and positive.
5. It Increases Brain Growth
Aging process causes our brain tissue to shrink because the development of new brain cells slows down. Exercise is capable of combating this process. By providing the brain with more blood which delivers oxygen, physical activities help in slowing down the aging process.
Furthermore, fitness also encourages the production of chemical BDNF which stimulates the growth of new brain cells. This process is especially beneficial to the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is highly affected by the aging process.
Tips for Selecting Appropriate Exercises
- Morning exercises are a must if you are after improving your overall condition. Performing physical activities early will help you spike brain activity and prepare you for the day. Even short exercises can be enough to get your mind and body ready for the stress that they are about to receive throughout the day.
- When dealing with lack of time, opt for circuit workouts. This type of workout ensures that muscles throughout the body are used and doesn't require much time. It will provide a quick boost to your heart rate and brain activity.
- Lean towards aerobic, also known as cardio, exercises. They are great for the body and the brain and contribute to relieving stress and anxiety.
- Dance! Dancing is great for your circulatory system which is responsible for blood circulation. This vital process is in charge of transporting nutrients, oxygen, hormones, and blood cells to different body parts.
Fitness is beneficial not only for our bodies, but also for our minds. Through fitness, people can fight their mental conditions such as anxiety and depression. Regular physical exercise also contributes to the reduction of both mental and physical stress. While eating healthy is mandatory to stay in good shape, it is not always enough.
When healthy eating habits are combined with fitness, one can easily counter insulin resistance and increase their insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, fitness stimulates the generation of new brain cells and slows down the aging process. It is also capable of improving our cognitive abilities such as thinking and memorizing. Exercise regularly to stay healthy and keep your brain satisfied!
by Amanda Roberts -