The physical benefits of exercise are proven and widely accepted: from weight management to reduced risk of several serious illnesses, it’s clear that exercise is one of the best preventive measures you can take for your health. In addition to your physical wellness, however, it turns out that exercise also has brain-boosting benefits.
The Brain on Exercise
When your heart rate rises during exercise, your blood flow increases, and the brain gets more nutrients and oxygen. Exercise also triggers the release of beneficial proteins, which nourish neurons and spur the growth of new brain cells. Thus, exercise has a direct impact on overall brain health.
In addition, exercise can also help you feel better mentally. Getting active prompts the brain to release feel-good chemicals, including dopamine and endorphins. These can help eliminate stress and may also aid in mood regulation.
Finally, exercise can optimize cognitive ability. Children and young adults who get regular exercise have been shown to score better in math and reading tests compared to those who don’t. Even working out just a couple of times a week appears to increase retention skills.
Moreover, being active can also help the body regulate sleep patterns, which can further support brain health. This creates a positive domino effect, as being well-rested may allow you to feel more focused, alert, and even creative during the day.
Ultimately, the importance of regular exercise on overall mental health cannot be overstated. The good news is that you don’t have to be an endurance athlete to enjoy the benefits, either. By simply getting moving—even if it’s walking, gardening, or doing household chores—you can promote better physical and mental wellness.
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