Brain Benefits of Exercise

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Heyyyy busy, hard workin’ folks!!! Think you don’t have the time or energy for exercise because you spend all your energy at work? Think again!

Tony Horton, celebrity trainer and creator of P90X discusses the concept that exercise makes you more successful at work: The concept of workplace productivity improving with the health and fitness of employees is a well documented fact. A 2006 study out of Leeds Metropolitan University in England showed that when the workers exercised daily, their job satisfaction ratings shot up 65%. Guess what improves with employee job satisfaction!? That’s right- it increases employee productivity.

The fact is, diet and exercise do more than just give you ripped abs and a firm, tight butt! A healthy meal plan assures that your brain gets the fuel it needs and prevents things like blood sugar crashes. In addition, daily exercise produces endorphins, which create a sense of calm and well-being. We all remember what Elle Woods said in “Legally Blonde”, right? “Exercise creates endorphins; endorphins make you happy; happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t!” The same concept applies to the workplace. Happy people work better. They just do!

Your brain is no different from any other muscle in the rest of your body. You either use it or you lose it. Sure your daily exercise routine stimulates the growth of muscle tissue, and working your brain increases neural connections. But, did you know that you can actually get an additional brain boost by getting your booty moving? The benefits of physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise have positive effects on brain function in several different ways, ranging from the molecular to behavioral level. According to a study conducted by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even exercising briefly (say 20 minutes) facilitates information processing and memory functions.

Exercise increases your heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also helps the body release tons of beneficial chemicals which aid in providing an environment for growth of brain cells. Exercise stimulates the brain plasticity by simulating growth of new connections between cells in many different crucial cortical areas of the brain. Recent research from UCLA demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain, making it easier for the brain to grow new neural connections.

Now, let’s talk about how if affects our brains from a behavioral standpoint. The same antidepressant-like effects associated with the “runner’s high” found in humans is associated with a drop in stress hormones. A study from Stockholm showed that the antidepressant effect of running was also associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

So, the next time your boss gets on you for being late when you come back from your lunch-hour workout, you have a valid argument for how it will actually benefit your work. 😉

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