Everyone knows that exercise is good for your body. It keeps you lean and healthy. But did you know exercise is good for your brain, too? There are extensive studies on the benefits of exercise on the brain — and the results are in. Researchers have found that exercise helps the brain function in many essential ways. In other words, exercise helps you think and helps your memory. 

It’s important to stay active with a healthy lifestyle. Building strength and endurance are great ways to combat the aging process so you can feel great. And now there is more information about how exercise helps you focus, reduce stress, and boost creativity. With so many physical and mental benefits of exercise, why not try challenging yourself to find an activity that you love and get moving?! ‌

Benefits of Exercise on the Brain

1. Reduce Your Stress and Anxiety

In today’s world, anxiety is common. It can be tough to balance work, personal commitments, kids, and family expectations. Instead of seeking out unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overeating or alcohol, try exercise. Physical activity lowers stress hormones and helps your body increase serotonin — a necessary hormone for proper nerve and brain function, and quite simply can make you feel better. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and anxiety is caused by too much cortisol in your body, which can damage your brain functions. Regular exercise can help adjust your brain’s stress level and release pent-up anxiety. 

Let’s be honest, stress won’t go away permanently. But finding healthy ways to manage it is necessary to a pleasant and balanced life. Lowering stress and anxiety can be as easy as getting active and moving your body, and sculpting a sleek physique is another bonus.

2. Create Your Feel-Good Vibes

According to the American Psychological Association, exercise models the body’s reward system. It circulates endorphins in your body and leads to a short-term high, which is sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high.” Daily exercise can help your body boost dopamine and endorphin hormone levels (aka, your body’s natural reward system), which give you that “feel-good” energy. Cardio and strength training are both excellent ways to reap this benefit.

As you age, your natural reward system will start to fade and becomes less active. Research has shown that older men and women who remain active have better neurological rewards than their inactive peers. Leading a longer, happier life is as simple as a daily walk or strength-training session. 

‌Exercise can help repair neurological damage caused by substance abuse. Exercise rewires the brain to crave physical activity rather than substances. If you are giving up alcohol, coffee, or cigarettes, try to incorporate regular exercise into your day. It can help you create a fresh, healing lifestyle. 

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

3. Build Your Confidence and Self-Esteem

Living your best life requires confidence and self-love to move forward and reach your goals. Exercise can help you gain confidence and see yourself in a new way. Physical exertion gives your body a chance to expend energy, which is a needed outlet that helps you manage weight and feel great. Simply put, exercise helps you feel better by boosting your self-esteem. Studies have shown that people with high self-esteem have better relationships, make better decisions, and have better sex. Yes, that’s right, exercise can lead to higher self-esteem, which can lead to better sex. 

4. Improve Your Memory and Creativity

How does exercise help you think? How can exercise help your memory? When you exercise, your body pumps more oxygen-rich blood to your brain and creates new neurological connections between its cells. Regular exercise improves memory, boosts creativity, and preserves your cognitive health. If you ever feel like you’re in a “fog” and need to think more clearly, physical activity will help you get back on track. It’s like hitting the ”refresh” button on your brain. Lace up your sneakers and get going to keep your brain and your body in tip-top shape!

The next time you feel less-than-motivated, remember that exercise has more than just physical benefits. Exercise boosts your creativity, strengthens your mind, and helps retain cognitive function as you age. Improving mental health is an excellent reason to get off the couch and get sweaty. Looking good physically is nice, but feeling good mentally is even better. 

‌If you aren’t sure what activities fit you, check out the variety of fitness classes on MyLifeWell. See on-demand and live broadcasting of yoga, fitness, nutrition, and other programs to support a healthy lifestyle for the mind and body. MyLifeWell will help you achieve your wellness goals.