You may have heard before how the brain is “like a muscle” and just like any of our other muscles, we need to exercise it regularly. Use it or lose it, but how does one do that? We can’t exactly flex our brain like we flex our muscles. The truth is that exercising the body’s muscles can help your brain in so many different ways. Let's discuss the ways that physical activity can impact our brain health.
5 Ways Our Brain Benefits From Exercise
- Improves Mood. Exercise releases endorphins, these are known as nature's feel-good mood elevator. It also releases serotonin, which improves mood and alleviates symptoms of depression. There is research that shows that routine exercise can be as effective as antidepressants. Exercise promotes many changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that encourage feelings of calm and well-being.
- Sharpens Concentration. Exercise can also improve your ability to concentrate because of the new neural connections that are made as a result of physical activity. The more you use these connections, the stronger they get and achieving this cognitive improvement does not have to be a difficult task. Simply doing exercises that target coordination skills can significantly improve your concentration. For example, playing catch with your kids or a game of tennis can improve coordination.
- Reduce Stress. When the body is under stress, our muscles may be tense. This is true especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, and often can leave you with back or neck pain, and even headaches. Exercising is a useful way to break this cycle. By releasing endorphins in the brain, exercise will help to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. The body and mind are closely linked so when your body feels better so will your mind.
- Memory Improvement. Simply put, your brain remembers more when your body is active. The same endorphins that are released and make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharper. Exercise also can stimulate the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.
- Improves Sleep. Even just quick bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you routinely exercise in the evening, relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.
When many of us think of the health perks of exercise, we often think of how it affects our body. Being active can do more than changing the way your body looks, it can strongly affect your mind as well.
There a plethora of surprising ways that exercise can affect your brain, and once you understand how important physical activity is for your brain and mental health, you will likely never look at going to the gym the same way again. With that said, it's time to get moving and keep our brain as healthy as possible.
Konnect Pilates is a warm, relaxed pilates studio offering complete body balance & conditioning through mindful movement. Contact us to learn more and set up your First Konnection!