When it comes to exercise, we tend to focus on the physical benefits. We tell ourselves, you’re going to get great abs, or you’ll finally be able to wear that amazing bikini to the beach! But if you need some extra motivation to go to the gym, there are many excellent reasons to work out.
What’s often overlooked is that there are amazing mental benefits to regular exercise. Here are 7 ways that working out regularly can boost your brain power:
1.Exercise lowers your stress level
Feeling stressed about work or just life in general? Try a quick workout to help alleviate feelings of stress. You’ll not only feel better, but your cells will actually be less stressed as well. That’s according to a 2010 study at the University of California, San Francisco, which showed that the cells of women who worked out showed fewer signs of aging than the cells of women who didn’t exercise.
2.Regular exercise gives you more energy to get things done
The excuse that you don’t have enough time to exercise needs to be permanently put to rest. The opposite is true: people who exercise regularly are more productive overall and have increased energy throughout the day, according to a study 2008 by the University of Georgia.
3.Exercise makes you happier
Regular exercise helps boost the production of “happy” chemicals in our brains, according to a 2010 study that showed working out increases the GABA chemical which is responsible for improved mood.
4.Exercise improves your self-image
You won’t just look better to others—exercise makes you feel better about your overall self-image.
5.Exercise helps you learn better
Regular exercise is proven to increase the production of so-called “growth factors” in your brain. Basically, it helps form new connections in your brain, improving your ability to learn new things.
6.Exercise improves your cognitive abilities as you age
As we get older, our bodies age and so do our brains. One way to stay mentally fit is to work out the brain with “brain games,” but physical exercise actually is more effective at slowing cognitive decline. A study conducted in Scotland of 70-year-olds, showed that participants who exercised regularly saw better cognitive results than those who only exercised their brains.
7.Exercise improves you memory
Regular exercise helps spur the growth of cells in your hippocampus, the part of your brain largely responsible for memory. In a study of 9 and 10 year olds, conducted at the University of Illinois in 2010, children who got plenty of exercise had a bigger hippocampus, the area of the brain which is largely responsible for memory.
Overall wellness is incomplete without regular exercise
When it comes down to it, your body is not going to be at its best without regular exercise, and that includes your brain. Whoever wrote that our minds were separate from our bodies was terribly wrong—they are connected in vital ways, and if you neglect your body, you’re neglecting your brain as well.