How Exercise Boosts Mental Performance and Wellbeing
You know that a solid fitness routine is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle: It’s key to maintaining physical strength and endurance. But did you know that vigorous exercise also improves your mental performance and overall wellbeing? It’s not just “all in your head.” Here’s why your workouts can keep you in top form mentally and emotionally, too.
Your daily workouts make you feel balanced. They also act to naturally relieve stress, and the challenge of reaching new fitness goals is motivating. Whether your preferred routine is yoga mixed with cardio bursts or a long run in the fresh air, there’s no denying that working up a good sweat and getting your heart rate up is essential to staying in top form. But research shows it can also help your brain perform better, too, and is a key part of overall wellbeing. Here’s why.
INTENSE WORKOUTS BOOST MEMORY AND MENTAL PERFORMANCE
Enjoy reaching for your new personal best? Pushing yourself a little harder to reach higher levels of physical fitness also benefits your memory and mental performance, as it turns out. Researchers at the University of British Columbia recently proved that regular, intense aerobic exercise—the type that gets your heart really pumping and that makes you sweat—increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning*. So to maximise your performance at work or to conquer that next mental challenge, intense exercise is your friend.
EXERCISE REINFORCES WELLBEING AND EMOTIONAL BALANCE
In addition to keeping your mind and memory sharp, studies show that a regular fitness routine also contributes to a sense of wellbeing and emotional balance**. In one study, people who exercised more frequently had more positive attitudes, reduced stress and anxiety and generally improved moods**.
To make the experience of exercise even more rewarding, try listening to music while working out, or team up with a friend to keep each other on track toward your fitness milestones, while enjoying the company and conversation. You know that motivation is always key to achieving goals.
By now, it’s probably pretty clear how strong the connections are between regular, vigorous exercise, mental performance and overall wellbeing. Ready to ramp up your workout routine and embrace that next level of physical, emotional and mental fitness? Go for it.
What motivates you to exercise: the mental or physical benefits? Both?
*In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results. The results werepublished this week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improv…
“Getting your heart rate way up is good for your brain as well as your body: one study proved it can improve memory and mental performance.”