In spite of the well known fact that physical activity contributes to weight loss and weight management, most of us neglect positive effects of exercise on our mental health. By staying physically active and being fit, the body gets rejuvenated and our brain is constantly boosted which in general improves our mood and the overall well-being.
If one is engaged in regular physical activity, the brain functions are inevitably enhanced, sleeping is better and the immune system reaches the highest level when it comes to defense of the entire body. The risk of various illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart conditions also reduces.
When we exercise the body receives more oxygen. This oxygen together with glucose is then easily distributed to all brain cells, boosting their function. Furthermore, improved circulation allows rapid removal of all waste products which may interfere with thinking and other mental activities. Once these harmful products are eliminated, the brain cells remain only with their fuel (oxygen and glucose) and may express their full potential. The presence of more oxygen makes us think more clearly, allows us to focus better and to remain more alert.
Regulation of Blood Pressure
We all know how hypertension can be damaging for blood vessels throughout the body. It also affects blood vessels in the brain and may eventually cause TIA or even stroke. In order to prevent elevated blood pressure and associated damage to brain cells and preserve vital functions of many parts of the brain, one is due to engage in regular physical activity and, if necessary, start taking some prescribed medications.
Stimulation of Nerve Growth Factors
Physical activity is known to stimulate production of certain growth factors in the brain necessary for survival of braincell. These factors also contribute to proper transmission of signals throughout the brain. When we exercise, the number of synapses (junctions between two neurons) increases and they become much stronger. This way, communication among brain cells significantly improves and this also reflects on many mental functions and cognitive processes.
Also, being physically active is closely connected with an increase in the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, and subsequent higher levels of alertness and mood and memory improvement.
Physical Activity against Stress
Being constantly under stress may also affect your brain. With regular physical activity muscles remain relaxed and the level of detrimental hormones produced by the adrenal glands reduces. These hormones may have damaging effects on all cells in the body including brain cells. Also, when we exercise, the level of endorphins in the brain significantly increases. Endorphins make us feel good and act powerfully against stress and pain.
All in all, exercise has amazing effects on health of the brain and all the functions it is in charge of.