Updated: Mar 26, 2019
Do you want to improve your mental health and wellbeing as well as your physical health?
Of course you do why wouldn't you!
What ever your reason for hitting the gym, getting fit, losing weight or getting super buff
for that up and coming holiday.
With exercise will come all the benefits of improved strength, weight control, improved posture, a better social life, and the list goes on but did you know of all the amazing changes that also takes place in our brains that will benefit your metal heath?
Having worked out all of my life i wanted to take a closer look at what goes on in my brain when i hit the gym so lets take a closer look at this in more detail.
The Endorphin Rush (Anandamide)
Endorphins are your body’s “feel-good” chemicals.
The increase in blood levels of chemical endorphins are the reason for that natural high feeling after exercise. also known as "Runners High" These chemicals suppress pain and could explain the massive high we feel after exercise.
Some research suggests endorphins are produced during anaerobic exertion, such as HIIT or intense weight training and not during typical aerobic exertion unless you exercise for about an hour,
but these Endorphins can not cross your blood-brain barrier.
so what does cause that euphoria in the brain?
It's Anandamide a neurotransmitter and Endocannabinoid produced in your brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression.
Anandamide is found in chocolate along with other chemicals witch explains why eating it makes you feel so good.
So next time you're feeling low and need that fix get off the sofa and hit the gym for that natural high.
Improves Short and Long Term Memory
Working out could be keeping you sharp.
A 2016 Study taken and published in the journal Current Biology,
Seventy two people partook in a picture-location memory task for about 40 minutes. Then the people were either randomly assigned to 35 minutes of exercise right away, exercise four hours later, or no exercise at all. Two days later the people came back to see how well they remembered what they had learned, and their brains were scanned. The people who exercised hours later had better recall and stronger and more clear activation in the areas of their brain associated with memory retrieval.
Researchers found that exercising four hours after a memory task increased brain patterns associated with memory, and helped people retain information better than people who exercised immediately after or people who did not work out.
Exercise helps the production of a biochemical cascade leading to the production of so called plasticity related proteins,
These proteins help stabilise new memory traces, which would otherwise be lost. Physical exercise is at the start of this sequence, because it is accompanied by the release of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Exercise for Depression and Anxiety
Being depressed can leave you feeling low in energy,
The links between depression, anxiety and exercise aren't entirely clear — but working out and other forms of physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and make you feel better.
Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety from coming back once you're feeling better. Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it's especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression.
Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it,
Exercise should be something you enjoy; otherwise it will be hard to find the motivation to do it regularly.
Relaxation and Concentration
YOGA HELPS YOU CHILL OUT AND STAY SHARP
The deep breathing and meditation may work on what’s called the HPA axis (or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), which controls your sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response that keeps your body cued up) as well as the parasympathetic nervous system (this tells you to chill out).
Yoga may reduce the SNS and increase the PNS, resulting in a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure, says Greenberg. Your brain takes cues from your body (and vice versa, of course), so when your body is calming down, your brain gets the message that all is well.
Exercise and Self Esteem
These two are so closely knitted together, looking good and feeling good.
Working out in the gym will change your physical appearance, as you gain muscle and reduce body fat your body symmetry and posture will change.
People will start to see the new you emerging they will comment on how well you are looking, you will make new friends and surround yourself with positive like minded people.
You will no doubt be eating more healthy and drinking plenty of water. you will be challenging your body and experiencing new things, your energy, your self-confidence and your general sense of well-being.
All these things combined will have a massive impact on your Self Esteem.
Reduced Risk of cognitive disorders
Exercise can reduce risk of mild cognitive impairment
A study has highlighted the benefits exercise can have for people suffering from mild cognitive disorder.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic claim that while these individuals will be able to function reasonably well regarding everyday activities they may have difficulty remembering details of conversations or upcoming appointments.
The team's claims are based upon a large-scale study of 868 individuals aged between 70 and 89-years-old - some with mild cognitive impairment and a control group.
Data was gathered about the participants' exercise habits between the ages of 50 and 65-years-old and one year before the study began.
It was noted that moderate physical exercise two to five times per week during the ages of 50 to 65 was associated with a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment.
A Personal journey!
Having suffered from a mental breakdown many years ago and finding myself in a very dark and lonely place the gym became and still it my saviour.
i wanted to find out more about just what happens in my brain when i workout, not only the benefits but also what keeps me going back tor more, back for my fix.
I'm a firm believer that your mind needs just as much attention when it come to health as your body.
You don't need to push your body to it's limits to get high just a brisk fresh air walk or a long steady jog in the park can be enough to release the good endorphins that gives you that rush, that natural high.
The gym is my drug of choice the only thing that keeps me not only physically strong but mentally strong,
It doesn't matter how physically strong you are if your brains is not in the right place the body will not be able to function.
I have only skimmed the surface of this complex subject but if it helps to motivate one person to improve there mental and physical health then i will be pleased.
Health is wealth you can have all the material riches but your mind and body is the most precious thing you will ever own.
Please feel free to share or to comment on any of my blogs.