Prince Deese, an All American Wrestler, a Hall of Fame Football Player, and a State Champion Body Builder, is a certified personal trainer and strength conditioning specialist. Prince Deese and Gina Deese own A.C.T. by Deese, a Fitness & Training Center in Greensboro, NC. Contact him at 336-617-5304.
Exercise has been shown to have many health benefits, both physical and mental. However, when people think about health, they often only consider the physical aspect. As a result, our goals for exercising are often focused on improving our physical health, losing weight, shedding fat, building muscles, improving stamina, and trimming the waistline are some of the most common reasons why many people opt for exercise. But ask anyone who has been exercising regularly and they will tell you how physical wellness isn’t the only benefit of exercising.
Staying active is good for your brain, emotions, and overall well-being.
THE CHEMICAL CONNECTION
Exercise has a profound impact on the brain’s chemistry. It triggers the release of various neurochemicals that play a vital role in stress reduction and mood regulation. One of the most well-known is serotonin, the chemical we all know as the “happy hormone.” Exercise boosts the production and release of serotonin. Higher serotonin levels are associated with improved mood and reduced risk of depression.
Exercise also stimulates the release of endorphins, another group of neurochemicals known for their mood-enhancing properties. Endorphins also work as natural painkillers and can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Furthermore, regular physical activity can reduce the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. Higher cortisol levels are linked to chronic stress and can be detrimental to mental health.
NEUROPLASTICITY AND BRAIN HEALTH
Exercise doesn’t just help trigger the release of happy hormones; it also has a remarkable impact on the brain’s neuroplasticity. Research shows that exercise can promote neuroplasticity by promotion neurogenesis, which is the process of the formation of new neurons and strengthening existing neural connections.
For those who many not know, neuroplasticity is the brain’s capability to adapt and rewire itself in response to new learnings, experiences, and challenges.
Aerobic exercise, in particular, has been shown to enhance cognitive function, memory and attention. It increases blood flow to the brain, boosting the supply of oxygen and essential nutrients. This helps promote the growth of new neurons and supports overall brain health. In fact, studies have demonstrated that regular exercise can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Moreover, exercise increases the production of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). It’s a protein that supports the growth and maintenance of neurons.
Stress has become a pervasive issue in the modern world, and it can significantly affect mental health. Fortunately, exercise is a powerful stress buster. The endorphins the body releases when we engage in physical activity act as natural stress relievers and mood lifters. Regular exercise can improve our ability to cope with stress overtime. It enhances our resilience, making it easier to face life’s challenges with a positive outlook.
One of the often overlooked aspects of mental health is the importance of quality sleep. Exercise has been shown to positively impact sleep quality, helping individuals fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper, more peaceful, restorative sleep.
The correlation of exercise with serotonin production plays a vital role in mood regulation. Exercise is a natural antidepressant. It reduces stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms, improves sleep, produces fee-good hormones in the body, and improves the brain’s sensitivity to them.
IMPROVED COGNITIVE FUNCTION
Exercise is a cognitive enhancer. It increases blood flow to the brain.Regular physical activity improves key cognitive functions, including memory, attention, and problem solving skills. It also lessens the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders, helping to maintain cognitive abilities.
THE WRAP UP
The scientific evidence supporting the positive impact of exercise on mental health is robust and compelling. Regular physical activity not only boosts mood and reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression but also promotes brain health, improves sleep, and enhances stress management.
It’s important to note that the right type and intensity of exercise can vary from person to person. It’s essential to find the ones that you enjoy and can sustain for the long run.