We are already on the fourth step on how to upgrade your brain.
There is something about going from inactive to being active that resets your chemistry and attitude and gives you access to embodied optimism.
There is a reason that when you are feeling upset and frustrated and go for a walk, it literary changes the way that you feel about your life. And this is so much in contrast than how we perceive moving our bodies.
Often when we ask people “how do you feel about exercise?” they will say: “Oh, I don’t have the energy for it.”
“It is exhausting.”
“It will be boring”
Or in the words of one of my daughters “It makes me tired and sweaty. And I do not like to be tired and sweaty.”
Well, Duh, becoming tired and sweaty is the purpose of exercise after all.
One of the reasons I use the word movement instead of exercise is that it takes away the negative assumptions we have about exercise and that we will feel worse after exercise.
When you move more you get “the feel better effect”.
We think that the mind and body are separate. But what you do with your body can have a powerful effect on your mental wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing means feeling good – both about yourself and about the world around you. It means being able to get on with life in the way you want.
Evidence shows there's a link between being physically active and good mental wellbeing.
The brain is often described as being “like a muscle”. It’s a comparison that props up the brain training industry and keeps school children hunched over desks. We judge literacy and numeracy exercises as more beneficial for your brain than running, playing and learning on the move.
But working your body’s muscles can actually benefit your grey matter.
Scientists are showing that the runner’s high has profound effects on your brain. Moreover, specific physical activities can markedly alter its structure in precise ways.
Boost your memory
The part of the brain that responds strongly to aerobic exercise is the hippocampus. Well-controlled experiments in children, adults and
the elderly show that this brain structure grows as people get fitter. Since the hippocampus is at the core of the brain’s learning and memory systems, this finding partly explains the memory-boosting effects of improved cardiovascular fitness.
As well as slowly improving your memory hardware, exercise can have a more immediate impact on memory formation.
Improve your concentration
Besides making memories stickier, exercise can help you focus and stay on task. The best scientific evidence comes from testing school children, but the same most likely applies to us all. Interspersing lessons with 20-minute bouts of aerobics-style exercise improved the attention span of Dutch school pupils.
Improve your mental health
Love it or hate it, bouts of physical activity can have potent effects on your mood. The runner’s high – that feeling of elation that follows intense exercise – is real. It may not be due to an “endorphin rush”, though. Levels of the body’s homemade opiate do rise in the bloodstream, but it’s not clear how much endorphin actually gets into the brain. Instead, recent evidence points to a pleasurable and pain-killing firing the endocannabinoid system: the psychoactive receptor of cannabis.
Exercise is also emerging as a promising way to overcome depression. A 2013 meta-analysis cautiously reported that exercise- both aerobic and resistance- was “moderately effective” in treating depression. Strikingly, exercise seemed as effective as antidepressant drugs and psychological treatments.
Slowing cognitive decline
Exercise is a potent brain tonic
The evidence that staying physically fit keeps your brain healthy into old age is especially compelling. Most concrete is the link between aerobic fitness and cognitive preservation. Workouts needn’t be extreme either: 30-45 minutes of brisk walking, three times a week, can help fend off the mental wear and tear and delay the onset of dementia. It pays to get used to regular exercise early, though. The protective effects are clearest before the cognitive signs of old age kick in.
That 30 min of exercise daily also helps to prevent cancer. For the ladies: 30 min of exercise lower your chance to get breast cancer by 50%. For the men it makes your chance to get prostate cancer 60% less than the average population. Nor is it all about your heart and lungs. Exercises to improve balance, coordination and agility made a clear impact on the brain structure and cognitive function.
Exercise is the miracle cure we've always had, but for too long we've neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence.
This is no snake oil. Whatever your age, there's strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life.
Don’t sit still
The cognitive spill-over from exercise reminds us that our brains don’t operate in isolation. What you do with your body impinges on your mental
faculties. Sitting still all day, every day, is dangerous. Being active doesn't mean you need to spend hours in the gym, if that doesn't appeal to you.
So don’t dither about what form of exercise you do. Find physical activities you enjoy and think about how to fit more of them into your daily life. You can dance, Hula hoop, or run the comrades, find something you enjoy, then get up and do it.
Find physical activities you enjoy and think about how to fit more of them into your daily life. You can dance, Hula hoop, or run the comrades, just move your body.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy.This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.
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