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Exercise & Brain Health

Exercise & Brain Health 

We all know exercise helps make our bodies stronger and healthier. But there’s more to the story than that.


It also plays a vital role in brain health and your overall mental health.

Whether it’s the simple Monday morning blues or the more serious symptoms of depression, regular exercise can play an essential role in keeping your brain healthier and happier.


Brain Chemistry & The Power Of Exercise 

When we are feeling down or experiencing depression, parts of our brain stop being as responsive. Depression is a complex mood disorder with several contributing factors, but changes in your brain biochemistry is a significant one. 

Naturally, when we are already feeling down or depressed, the last thing we want to do is exercise. But doing so just might be exactly what you need.

Studies have found that exercise can stimulate the parts of the brain that aren't as responsive while feeling down or depressed and can support the release of feel-good chemicals throughout the brain known as endorphins. 

Endorphins & Other Brain Chemicals

Have you ever heard of “runner’s high”? It’s that zone runners get into that is often described as pure bliss. That’s endorphins in action. 

But you don’t have to get out and start running to experience the magic of endorphins; you just need to physically exert yourself in some way, shape, or form. Endorphins are a kind of neurotransmitter that helps relieve stress and pain, hence why they are released when you’re exercising. Exercise is a kind of stress on the body, the good kind.

That’s just the beginning, though. Exercise also stimulates several other neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that play a vital role in our overall mood—for example, serotonin. By raising your serotonin levels from exercise, you’re also boosting your mood and your general sense of well-being. Serotonin also plays a vital role in improving your sleep cycles and appetite, both things that are negatively affected by depression. 

The other mood-boosting brain chemicals that exercise helps stimulate are dopamine and norepinephrine. 

The Brain Boosting Benefits of Regular Exercise 

Any amount of exercise can give you brain-boosting benefits, but a regular exercise routine is best.


Aerobic workouts have been found to provide the most brain-boosting benefits. It elevates your heart rate, improving circulation to the brain. Improved circulation supports proper brain function and balanced brain chemistry. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most adults are encouraged to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. But as we said before, you don’t have to lace up and head out to your local marathon. You can take a brisk 30-minute walk around your neighborhood every morning, or you can find a local pool to swim laps at, join a spin class, or start playing basketball. 


It is also strongly encouraged to get at least two sessions of muscle-strengthening activities a week. This can include weightlifting, yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, among others.


It’s All About Your Overall Happiness & Well-Being


Exercise provides a lot of benefits to our well-being, but they aren’t all just physical. As we’ve learned, exercise offers benefits to our brain health, improving our mood and overall sense of well-being. 


Choosing to exercise regularly isn’t just about how you look; it’s also about how you feel; it’s about your overall happiness and well-being. If you’re someone who has symptoms of depression, exercise provides many benefits that can help offset those symptoms. 


So if you find that one day, you’re feeling down, and you don’t know if you want to work out or not, remember, you are choosing yourself, choosing your well-being, and choosing a happy, healthy brain.


Please note, if you suspect that you have depression, it is essential that you speak with your doctor. Exercise should only be used as part of treatment and not seen as a permanent solution. Talking with your doctor can help you find the best solution for you.