By Alan Knight
You don’t have to look too far to find information on the benefits of exercising regularly. In fact, some of them will be discussed right here. But it’s not all about toned abs and firm glutes. How about sweating to boost your brain function?
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For years scientists have pondered how exercising can boost your brainpower. Harvard based psychiatrist, John J. Ratey, MD, authored a fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain. In his book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, he states, “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory and learning.” He continues, “Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.” Get inspired to exercise by reading up on how working out can benefit your mental and physical health, and lead to a happier and healthier life overall. Are you ready to work up a sweat?
SAY GOODBYE TO STRESS
Stress can be a real bummer on your body all the way down to the cellular level. Chronic stress leads to headaches, insomnia and heart attacks. There’s also an association between stress and memory loss. Cortisol is released into your body when you’re under stress which interferes with the neurotransmitters that enable brain cells to communicate with each other. This in turn leads to difficulty with memory retrieval.
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Jumping on the treadmill, taking a vigorous hike or playing a rousing game of tennis will blow off tension by increasing the “happy” chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. It gets even better. According to research at UCSF, physical activity can reduce the effects of cell aging brought on by chronic stress. Let’s get a little scientific for a moment so I can explain. A telomere is a component of DNA that sits atop our chromosomes like a plastic tip on the edge of a shoe lace. Essentially they keep the chromosome ends from fraying. They lose their effectiveness as they get shorter and the cells they protect are no longer able to divide. This leads to inactive cells which eventually die. A dead cell is not a good cell. This leads to aging, cancer, diabetes and early death.
The findings of the UCSF study links exercise with longer telomeres. To make a long study short, they compared stressed-out active people and stressed-out inactive people and guess who had the longer telomeres? Yep, you got it. The active people had longer telomeres even though they were under stress. And longer telomeres are linked to younger-looking and healthier people. (https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2013/09/108886/lifestyle-changes-may-lengthen-telomeres-measure-cell-aging)
EXERCISE IMPROVES LEARNING
It sure does and the kids at Naperville High School (in Illinois) can prove it. A physical education teacher named Phil Lawler got the idea to get the kids moving when he saw a lot of inactivity in the school gym. He decided to insist all the students run one mile a week. He stuck by his guns despite the flack.
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The program began to evolve and soon he added cardio equipment and heart monitors. Kids were graded on how many times during the week they hit their target heart rate. Over time, the kids’ reading scores doubled and their math scores were up by a factor of 20. Other teachers at Naperville High began to give “brain breaks” during class by allowing a short burst of physical activity. This helped the students to focus longer and even increased their problem solving skills.
Research shows that more complicated activities like playing tennis or taking a dance class provides the biggest brain boost because complicated movement stimulates thinking. "All their brain cells are working," according to Dr. Ratey, "And when their brain cells work, they pour out neurotransmitters. They also pour out these brain growth factors which help our brain cells knit together."
It turns out that working out boosts the brain in adults too. A general rule of thumb; if it’s good for the heart, it’s good for the brain. Lace up your sneakers, hit the gym and improve your memory. I like the sound of that.
EXERCISE HELPS WITH DEPRESSION
There is mounting evidence showing that exercise may be one of the best treatments for mild to moderate depression. According to Dr. Raley, “There are very good placebo control studies comparing antidepressants and exercise, and the effect on mood is the same.” It may be because exercise appears to stimulate growth in neurons in regions of the brain damaged by depression. Don’t worry if you’re not a gym rat. Some form of physical activity for 30 minutes a few times a week, will boost overall mood and put more pep in your step.
NEED A LITTLE MORE SELF-ESTEEM? IT BUILDS CONFIDENCE
Don your sneakers, grab a towel and hit the treadmill for a confidence boost. You don’t have to see a radical change to get a burst of confidence. Simply put, improved physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image.
EXERCISE HELPS WITH ANXIETY
Feeling anxious? The “happy” chemicals that are released during exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Hop on the treadmill for some high-intensity cardio and watch your anxiety melt away. One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours and regularly scheduled workouts can significantly reduce them over time.
EXERCISE HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER
Studies show that exercise can significantly improve the sleep of those with chronic insomnia. Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature. A few hours later when the temperature drops back to normal, it signals the body that it’s time to sleep.
THE FUN PART
You’ve just had a great workout and feel like you’re on top of the world. You feel strong and invincible. This is your new lifestyle and you love it. There is nothing better for your body after exercise than a nice long soak.
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You deserve it, don’t you think?
In this article, I discussed the many brain-boosting benefits of exercise and why physicians suggest regular physical activity to promote a healthy lifestyle. It is also important to rejuvenate sore muscles after a workout. A cool soak in the tub is just what the doctor ordered.
If you learned anything from this article, please make a comment or pass it along.
Until the next time.
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Alan Knight is the owner of Tub King, Inc., and SeniorBathtub.com in Jacksonville, Florida. He has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, the company is also multiple time award winner, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you would like to contact him, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.