The Impacts of Exercise on the Brain

These days, life is particularly stressful and uncertain. While you don’t have a lot of control over the direction of the pandemic, or any other stressors in your life, there are ways you can better manage the tension and anxiety they cause. One simple step to take is adding exercise to your daily routine. When you do, you can:

Reduce depression.

Studies show exercise can help with mild to moderate depression without the side effects of taking medication. In fact, according to one Harvard study, running for 15 minutes a day or walking for one hour reduced the risk of major depression by 26%.

Distract you from worries.

When you exercise, it can serve as a distraction, which is especially important when you’re stressed out. It allows you some quiet time to relax and work out, breaking the cycle of negative thinking.

Enjoy calm, peaceful feelings.

When you exercise, your body releases a range of powerful chemicals, including endorphins, which promote a more positive, happier attitude. It also releases the “feel good” hormone, dopamine, boosting your mood.

Cut down on anxiety.

Exercise gives you an outlet for your anxiety and stress. If you go for a run, think about how you’re breathing. If you’re biking, focus on your leg muscles and how they’re pumping the bicycle. This kind of mindfulness will focus your body on what it feels like to exercise, interrupting any worrisome thoughts.

Improve your memory.

On top of all that, exercise can also help you sharpen your memory and thinking. In fact, some endorphins help to improve your ability to concentrate, so you feel more focused and can think faster. In addition, when you’re hit with future challenges, you’ll be more resilient and able to cope in a healthy way instead of falling back into old bad habits.

Obviously, when you exercise, you’ll also improve your physical health too. When you’re stressed, you might have a pounding pulse, stomach ache, or tightness in your chest. You also might experience issues with sleeping or overeating. Exercise can help to alleviate all these problems, further improving the health of your brain and your whole body, too.

Even if you don’t have a lot of extra time in your day, a little bit of exercise will go a long way. For instance, two 15-minute walks each day will help you achieve many of the above benefits. Even if you need a break after a few minutes, keep at it, and you’ll build up stamina to do more going forward.

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