That aerobic exercise can help you burn fat, has already been established. It can also build lean muscle and even improve your cardiovascular health.
But did you know that completing an efficient aerobic workout at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week can also improve your cognitive function and boost your emotions positively? Here's how exercise affects your brain health...
An extended high-intensity exercise session can lead to what is commonly known as a runner's high, which is characterized by feelings of euphoria after an exercise session. These high spirits are caused by an influx of body-produced opioids called endorphins. Endorphins are also responsible for suppressing pain. If you're unable to go at a high intensity for a full exercise session, you may also get the high by alternating between moderate-intensity and high-intensity exercise. For example, if you normally walk quickly for exercise you could switch between fast walking and sprinting every 30 seconds.
Improved learning capacity
Exercise increases brain chemicals that help your brain form new cells and help the cells create new connections. These new cells and new connections improve learning capacity. More involved forms of exercise such as dancing and playing tennis are more likely to promote brainpower than rote activities such as swimming laps.
Reduced cognitive decline
Aging can induce decline in mental processes such as task coordination, working memory and planning. This decline occurs as a result of deterioration of white and gray matter in some parts of the brain. However, people who get moderate-intensity exercise on a regular basis are likely to have a greater volume of brain tissue and thus more likely to have improved cognitive performance. They may also be less likely to develop degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Reduced anxiety and depression
Exercise doesn't just offer a short-term high. Getting exercise on a regular basis may reduce your risk of depression and anxiety by releasing happy brain chemicals such as endorphins and neurotransmitters, reducing immune system chemicals that can exacerbate depression and induce a sense of calm by elevating your body temperature. Exercise also offers less direct mind benefits by giving you a healthy energy outlet and temporarily taking your mind off your worries.
You may have greater confidence and an improved body image if you exercise on a regular basis. Reaching fitness goals such as running an extra mile or lifting an extra 5 pounds can give you a sense of accomplishment. Losing excess weight and improving your muscle tone is the visible reward for your endeavors, which can further improve your self-confidence.