What Everybody Ought to Know About Exercise and the Brain – Growing with Gratitude

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What Everybody Ought to Know About Exercise and the Brain

What Everybody Ought to Know About Exercise and the Brain

May 28, 2016

We all know exercise is important, but why?

In this article you will read how exercise benefits adults and children and discover what everybody ought to know about exercise and the brain. You will read about exercise and:

  1. Happiness
  2. Children’s Brains
  3. Gratitude

Exercise and Happiness

Research by Tom Scheve has proven that happiness and exercise are linked in three profound ways:

1.   Boosts the immune system

  • Defends our bodies from infection and illness

2.  Releases endorphins. Endorphins:

  • Stimulate the brain and numb pain
  • Create feelings of elation, contentment and lower stress

3.  Reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is produced during times of:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Tears

2 Studies

  1. Amanda Chan writes about how researchers from Penn State University found the more physically active people reported greater general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm, compared with the less physically active people.

Researcher Amanda Hyde states:

“We found that people who are more physically active have more pleasant-activated feelings than people wess active, and we also found that people have more pleasant-activated feelings on days when they are more physically active than usual.”

2.    Shawn Achor writes about a study in his book The Happiness Advantage.

Three groups of depressed people were given three different coping strategies. A group was given antidepressants, a group exercised for 45 minutes three times per week and a groupdid a combination of both. After four months each group recorded similar improvements in happiness. The study concludes the fact that exercise proved just as beneficial as antidepressants is astounding. When retested six months later only 9% of those tested who only exercised relapsed compared to 38% and 31% in the other groups. The positive effects of exercise are long lasting.

Exercise & Children’s Brain’s 

Not only is exercise essential for children’s bodies it is also essential for their brain. Exercise encourages blood flow throughout the body, including the brain.

Brain cells are able to connect more effectively with each other.

R. Morgan Griffin concludes exercise benefits children in the following ways:

Better Thinking Skills

  • Studies show that people who exercise more are sharper mentally
  • The effects may be almost immediate
  • One study found that kids scored higher on math and reading comprehension tests after exercising for 20 minutes

More Confidence

  • Studies have found that kids who do athletics are more confident
  • In turn, that confidence may improve their academic performance
  • Active kids tend to get better grades (though there could be a lot of reasons for that, including brain benefits, part of it may be better self-confidence)

Better Moods

  • Many studies have found that kids who exercise feel happier
  • Physical activity releases brain chemicals that are natural stress fighters
  • Just about any physical activity seems to help
  • Physically active kids are better at managing their moods
  • Have fewer mood swings

Sounder Sleep

  • Kids who exercise regularly fall asleep faster than other kids
  • They also stay asleep longer
  • The more vigorous the activity, the bigger the sleep benefit
  • Getting enough sleep lifts moods, improves judgment, and boosts memory

Exercise & Gratitude

When we take care of our body through exercise we show love and gratitude for ourselves.

I love this view of gratitude and fitness by blogger Kaileen Elise:

“Yoga teachers often suggest that students “dedicate” their practice to someone or something in their lives. That’s a perfect time to focus your energy on gratitude and fitness. You can also try this on your next walk, bike ride, or swim. Let the repetitive motions become a moving meditation on gratitude. Think about everything your body does for you – from your bones to your skin, and from your brain to your toes. Your body works hard to keep you safe and healthy. So when you think about it that way, a daily fitness routine becomes a practice of gratitude”

The benefits for exercise are endless.

It is vitally important children learn the habit of exercising as early as possible.

The benefits can shape a persons life physically and mentally.

Please leave a comment on the following question:

What is your favourite form of exercise?

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