Brain-healthy foods, technology limits, brain-boosting music : these are all instances in which we develop our brain to the best of its ability, and try to make it the healthiest brain possible! Along with these various methods to develop a healthy brain, exercise actually contributes greatly to the wellbeing of our minds. But how could working out physically possibly affect our brains mentally?
Well, some of the few ways in which exercise affects the brain is that it increases heart rate. Let’s look into this further. When you are going for a run, playing a sport, or even playing a simple physical game with your friends, your heart rate increases. As a result, more oxygen is pumped to the brain. Exercise also allows hormones and other essential glands/organs to provide a better space for your brain to grow, both physically and mentally. According to brainfacts.org, “In the brain, hormones alter the production of gene products that participate in synaptic neurotransmission as well as affect the structure of brain cells. As a result, the circuitry of the brain and its capacity for neurotransmission are changed over a course of hours to days.” Hence, exercise promotes structural development of the brain as well!
Another instance in which exercise benefits the brain is when our mental health gets a chance to grow new ‘neuronal connections’. In simpler terms, exercise helps develop the vital brain cells that form circuits, to eventually support our motor, sensory, and cognitive thinking skills that we use in our day-to-day lives. Research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) states that exercise actually increases growth and maturity in the brain, making it easier to create new connections between various minute cells.
Though we may ‘usually’ consider exercise as something just for our physical health, weight loss, or possibly even other health reasons – exercises also have various outcomes (positively) on our human brains. Therefore, next time you ever need motivation to work out or play a sport with friends, just remember that your brain is benefiting by the minute due to your commitment to exercise!
Author: Vinuta Ramakrishnan