Exercise for a Stronger Mind
We all know that to get a strong lean healthy body we need to exercise. But did you know that you can use exercise to create a stronger healthier mind? Our mental well being can be affected by a number of things like stress, body chemistry imbalances and self esteem issues. Exercise can be incredibly helpful with all of these issues and recent studies shows that regular exercise can also strengthen the brain in much the same way it strengthens the body.
How exercise trains the brain
Physical exercise actually helps protect against cognitive decline. Muscle activity actually stimulates synapse in the brain and strengthens those synapse which pumps up your brain power. Walking is especially good for your brain, because it increases blood circulation and the oxygen and glucose that reach your brain. Walking is not strenuous, so your leg muscles don’t take up extra oxygen and glucose like they do during other forms of exercise. As you walk, you effectively oxygenate your brain. Maybe this is why walking can “clear your head,” and helps you to think better. Movement and exercise increase breathing and heart rate so that more blood flows to the brain, enhancing energy production and waste removal. Studies show that in response to exercise, cerebral blood vessels can grow, even in middle-aged sedentary animals.
While walking is good for the brain a study at The Salk Institute suggests that running may be even better. Ongoing animal studies at The Salk Institute show that running can boost brain cell survival in mice that have a neurodegenerative disease with properties similar to Alzheimer’s.
When these mice are sedentary, “it appears that most newly born brain cells die. We don’t understand that fully, but it probably has something to do with an inability to cope with oxidative stress,” said Carrolee Barlow, a Salk assistant professor and lead author of the study. “Running appears to ‘rescue’ many of these cells that would otherwise die. Furthermore, the miles logged correlated directly with the numbers of increased cells, she said. “It’s almost as if they were wearing pedometers, and those that ran more grew more cells.” This is from the Franklin Institute.
How exercise lowers stress
According to the Mayo Clinic stress can cause many physical and emotional reactions in the body they include but aren’t limited to:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
While constant stress in your life is bad news, the good news is doing almost any kind of exercise can help relieve it. Aerobics, weight training, running, walking yoga, tai chi, or Pilates will all do the trick. Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.
- It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
- It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
- It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
How exercise improves self esteem
Simply doing exercise on a regular basis can help improve self-esteem. We all know that doing that workout makes you feel like you accomplished something. That same workout helps you lose a few pounds and your clothes fit a little better which in turn makes you feel a little better. All of that leads to higher self-esteem. Don’t take my word for it, in a study from the Medical College of Georgia included 207 overweight, typically sedentary children ages 7-11 randomly assigned to either continue their sedentary lifestyle or exercise for 20 or 40 minutes every day after school for an average of 13 weeks.
The 40-minute group sustained the most psychological benefit, according to research published online in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
The MCG researchers were the first to demonstrate this dose response benefit of exercise – meaning the more the better – on depressive symptoms and self-worth in these children. Benefits came despite the fact that the children’s weight did not change much over the three months.
“Just by getting up and doing something aerobic, they were changing how they felt about themselves,” says the study’s first author, Dr. Karen Petty, postdoctoral fellow in psychology at MCG’s Georgia Prevention Institute.
But first you have to start an exercise program
But to get all these benefits first you have to start an exercise program and for some that can be the most difficult part. Do you join a gym, hire a personal trainer? What kind of exercise is right for you, and of course there’s the little issue of the expense. Well have no fear because we have a simple, convenient and affordable solution just for you, the My Life Fitness online training program. With it you can bring some of the top trainers in America right into your living room. There are hundreds of workouts that range from 10 minute “quickie” programs to full-blown hardcore hour-long workouts. Using a combination of streaming audio and video, this inexpensive alternative to the gym allows you to do your workout on your schedule and you can try it out at no charge for 2 weeks. If you like it it’s only $9.95 a month. For more information click here
We have a variety of programs to help people who have stress and anxiety. You can select a 90 Day Program that has been carefully constructed with a mix of cardio, Yoga, Pilates and meditation to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. Our 90 Day Programs are custom-built for each user based on that user’s current level of fitness activity and severity of stress/anxiety. And our 90 Day interactive calendar tells you exactly what to do each day for 90 days, including when to rest. You can also select 30 Day Programs that focus on specific activities and that likewise alleviate stress and anxiety – Yoga, Pilates, Walking, Running and even Meditation. Last, you can go into our entire workout inventory and grab a single Daily Program from any of these exercise categories that you feel will help your condition. Whether you select a 90 Day Program, a 30 Day Program or a Daily Workout, you can feel confident that your exercise choice will make a real difference in your mood and attitude…at work and at home.