Physical activity and its effects on the most important organ in your body: your brain.
There are thousands of studies around the world which have provided us with evidence that being physically active can have a positive effect on the most important organ in your body: your brain.
1. Effects on mood and focus:
“What if I told you there was something that you could do right now that would have an immediate positive benefit for your brain, including your mood and your focus?” Wendy Suzuki, neuroscientist asks her audience at a Ted Talk in November 2017.
Wendy Suzuki is researching the science behind physical activity and the effects it can have on our brain. A Professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science at New York University. You can see her TedTalk here.
In her talk she says “A single bout of physical activity will immediately increase levels of neurotransmitters in your brain like dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline.” She's pretty convincing too. Her upbeat demeanour in her Ted Talk will make you want to sign up for a marathon or a Zumba class right away.
A little about those 3 neurotransmitters:
Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It's a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting.
Serotonin helps your brain to really messages from one area of the brain to another. Of the 40 million brain cells, serotonin plays a role either directly or indirectly in each of those which relate to everything from our mood to sleep, learning and memory.
Noradrenaline is both a hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, and a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger which transmits signals across nerve endings in the body.
2. Effects on long term memory:
It wasn’t until recent, scientists in the study of the brain thought that by the time we reached adulthood, our brains were pretty much fixed in its function and even its structure. But, newer studies have shown that our brains are in fact quite flexible, with the ability to literally rewire itself, as well as grow brand new brain cells.
But, it needs some assistance for this to be optimal and exercise has shown to play a large role. Regular physical activity over time has been linked to increase in the volume of a part of the brain called the hippocampus, an integral part of the brain’s memory function. Which can have an effect on helping to stave off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
With all these convincing findings of physical activity and the effect on our brain it makes sense to keep regular exercise as a part of ones daily habits. And since it's a regular thing, choose something you enjoy. After all, we gotta keep that hippocampus growing!