Can exercise strengthen the mind?

When you’re curling dumbbells in the gym, we’re pretty sure you’re set on strengthening your biceps, not your mind. But, did you know that exercise can have huge benefits to your mind, helping to improve mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, as well as boosting brainpower and aiding concentration? Here’s a few ways a morning 5K or an evening stint on the squat rack could strengthen your mind, as well as your bod.

It can boost your memory

When life gets busy, it’s normal to get a little forgetful. But, getting sweaty can help boost your memory and thinking skills. Various studies show that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in people who regularly exercise*. When we exercise, we stimulate physiological changes in our body, such as reductions in insulin resistance and inflammation and also the production of chemicals that affect the growth of new blood vessels in the brain.

It can combat stress

Hands up who’s stressed? In this day and age, everyone encounters stress, whether it’s work-related, family focused or relationship drama. Exercise is known to increase the brain’s production of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps control your response to stress. It’s also a great way to distract yourself from life’s everyday stresses, encouraging you to focus, whether it’s on reaching your goal distance on the treadmill or lifting the heavier weight in the gym.

Does exercise benefit your mental health?

It can boost brain power

We all have days where our brain just feels tired. When your mind needs a boost, get moving and you’ll reap the benefits. Why, you ask? Well, various studies on mice and on men have shown that cardiovascular exercise can generate new brain cells. This process is called neurogenesis and can help to improve the performance of the brain.

A tough weights sesh could be all you need to get your brain thinking clearer. Studies show that a difficult workout where you’re testing yourself can increase levels of brain-derived protein, also know as BDNF, in the body. This handy protein helps with decision making, thinking and learning so, next time you’re struggling to get your brain into gear, try that heavy weight or take on that gruelling spin sesh and see how it impacts your mind.

It can increase productivity

If you’re more procrastination than productivity, then a simple lunch-time stroll could be the answer to your problems. Research suggests that workers who are regularly active during their working day have more energy than those who spend their shift chained to a desk. Taking time away from your screen and from the office is important for both productivity and your sanity but squeeze in a short walk or jog and your brain will thank you for it!

Does exercise help the mind?

So, who’s set on upping their exercise? Your brain will benefit, but what if you’re short on time? No excuse! Here’s 6 time-saving hacks to help you speed up your workouts. Want more training tips? Head over to our blog to find out 5 reasons why you need a training buddy and more.

*Harvard Health Publishing