Fitness is highly noted for its positive effects on the body, but neglected for its effects on the mind.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of enhanced memory, brain cell GROWTH and the ability to promote GOOD habits while replacing BAD ones via physical activity.
Nowadays it seems like we are all consumed by the wake-up, go to work, come home, sleep, repeat, “rat race,” lifestyle. We spend so much time in the seated position, repeating the same tasks day in and day out.
Most of us have completely FORGOTTEN that our bodies and minds are made for movement.
That’s right, fitness ENHANCES your brain function. The hippocampus, or area of the brain responsible for memory retention actually GROWS when stimulated with exercise. Scientific studies have proven that as little as 30 minutes of exercise a day increases the size of your brain, making you smarter and boosting your memory.
We’ve always known that our brains control our behavior, but not that our behavior could control and change the structure of our brains. -Dr. Gage Ph.D.
This phenomenon occurs via the process of neurogenesis, or brain cell production. Exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells particularly in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory and habit-formation. This should explain why exercise enthusiasts can make time to work out no matter what their schedule looks like while sedentary individuals have not developed the habit to “find time” to make movement a priority.
Have you ever noticed that fitness buffs tend to have a more positive outlook on life?
That’s no coincidence. Studies have proven that fitness lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the brain. Serotonin levels also increase as a result of an active lifestyle making you happier and able to handle the daily stressors that life throws at you with ease.
Have you ever noticed the positive attitude most fitness enthusiasts take on? Believe it or not, they haven’t all always been happy! A lot of people BECOME happy once they begin an exercise routine. BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor), along with several other “happy hormones” increase in production when physical activity becomes routine. Because BDNF increases during physical activity, improving brain function. This hormone is also known for its anti-depressant properties.
Creating positive pathways in the brain starts with an “I CAN” state of mind.
Set a small goal, whether it is engaging in your favorite activity daily, parking in the back of the parking lot, taking the stairs, or even setting new movement goals every week! For example, as part of my client programs, I give them a weekly challenge. Every week my clients must complete the challenge in order to move on to the next phase of the program. At the end of the month, the client with the most completed challenges and improvements is awarded and recognized. This pattern creates an environment for growth and improvement.
Take the path to a happier life with these easy steps and start enhancing your mind today!
(References: Reynolds, Gretchen. The First 20 Minutes. Avery. 2012. Print.)