Ten to Go: Love your brain
It’s well known that exercise is good for the mind, body and soul. But we’re learning more every day about exactly how exercise benefits our most complex organ, the brain.
Exercise sets off “pleasure chemicals” such as serotonin and dopamine within our nervous system, thus affecting mood, vitality, alertness and feelings of well-being – curbing depression and anxiety. In some cases of clinical depression, exercise has been shown to be as effective as antidepressant pills. So, instead of popping those pills, pencil in some exercise.
Other brain-related benefits of exercise include:
• elevation of your perception of self worth
• prevention of degeneration of the hippocampus (in the middle of the brain)
• cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells (neurogenesis) and improve overall brain performance
• increased creativity.
Thirty minutes of moderate exercise at least three times per week is highly recommended for a healthy brain.
An amazing example of the power of the brain’s regenerative abilities – and the power of the human spirit – is a young man named Brian, 33, (left) who sustained a traumatic brain injury when he was in a motor vehicle accident at age 27. He struggles with alertness, motivation, fatigue and impulsivity.
Brian is making tremendous progress daily through exercise rehabilitation.
His routine consists of swimming, walking and a regimented exercise routine coupled with frequent sessions with a nutritional counselor.
Brian forces us to reconsider how we define success. As he says, “It’s not just reaching goals we have set for ourselves but taking small steps toward life which make it worth living every day.”