It is common knowledge that exercise is good for the heart and makes people more attractive, while enhancing muscle mass and aiding in weight loss. Dr. Tarnopolsky states, “If there were a drug that could do for human health everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed.”
Exercise not only has physical health benefits, but it also greatly supplements mental, nervous, and psychological health. Getting the heart rate up and performing dynamic movements increases brain power.
The brain on exercise results in better learning ability, stress relief, anxiety reduction/ reversal, mood enhancement (depression aid), and increased focus; among hundreds of other things. As a matter of fact, a study conducted by the California Department of Education shows that students with higher levels of physical fitness have higher test results. This information compelled the President of Taiwan to decide to increase the occurrence of physical education in schools from twice a week to thrice a week.
Exercise increases the efficiency of a protein in the brain called the “Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.” BDNF improves neurotic function and growth while strengthening and protecting brain cells. The ability to learn greatly increases when BDNF makes the brain “grow,” or modifying its cellular structure, allowing neurons to fire more easily. A scientific study showed that when BDNF is applied to neurons on a petri dish, they automatically grow branches and produce the same structural growth necessary for learning. (Learn more)
In addition to physical health improvement, people exercise because it gives them a tremendous sense of well-being. Their productivity increases as a result of higher energy levels throughout the day. So instead of chugging down a bunch of coffee in the morning, go ahead and take a jog around the neighborhood.
Other mental benefits of exercise include:
1. Sharper Thinking: The release of endorphins during exercise aid in focus and concentration.
2. Improved Self-Esteem: A daily habit of exercise makes one feel better about one’s appearance while giving a sense of achievement.
3. Great Sleep: Exercise can help promote sleep by regulating the body’s internal clock.
4. Higher Energy Levels: Increasing the heart rate several times a week increases motivation and gives one more energy throughout the day.
5. Stress Resilience: Exercise is a healthier way to cope with negative emotions when compared to alcohol, drugs, and other vices that worsen symptoms.
Lisa Landman holds a Doctorate in Psychology and has worked in a variety of professional settings. Learn more about her professional work or check out her Twitter!