Whether your aim is to bulk up or slim down, the physical benefits of regular exercise are endless. You’ll look better, live longer, have more sex and more energy, but what about the way exercise can benefit your mind?
It turns out that hitting the gym can do wonders for your mental fitness, as well as carving you a new six pack. Here are a few ways exercise can help your noggin.
Helps You Avoid Cognitive Decline
Apparently, exercise can help you generate new brain cells, even as an adult, particularly in the hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for long-term memories and spatial navigation). And whilst your hippocampus naturally shrinks as you get older, potentially leading to dementia and cognitive decline, exercise can actually increase it’s size by as much as 2%, so you’ll absolutely never forget that gruelling marathon you did at 26.
Improves Your Ability To Learn New Skills
As well as learning how to squat like a pro, physical exercise will help you learn new skills even after you’ve left the gym. Researchers found that 5 months of exercise can lead to a ripped rig but also increases blood flow to the cerebral cortex, the part of brain responsible for memory, thoughts, and perceptions. The monkeys tested in the study showed significant improvements in how fast they learned new skills.
You’ll Stay Cool Under Pressure
Avoid losing your shit by amping up your workout routine. When you exercise you’re pumping feel-good neurotransmitters, known as endorphins, throughout your body. Like a morphine high, these endorphins produce an ‘exercise-induced euphoria’ making the rest of your day a little less stressful and increasing your overall happiness. Annoying boss and angry girlfriend, be gone.
Help You Tap Into Creativity
Whether you’ve got writer’s block or just needs to get those creative juices flowing, hitting the trail for a long walk, run or cycle can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. In fact, exercising outdoors and being at one with nature can supercharge post-workout inspiration dramatically. As philosopher and author Henry Thoreau claimed, his thoughts began to flow ‘the moment my legs began to move.’
Help You Ditch The Bad Stuff
Dopamine, a ‘reward chemical’ is released in response to any form of pleasure, from food, to sex, drugs and even exercise. Short exercise sessions can effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts, making them de-prioritize cravings (at least in the short term). Another benefit? Hitting the late snacks and booze tends to mess up your circadian rhythms, resulting in a rather shitty night’s sleep. Exercise can help reboot the body clock, so you’ll hit the hay with ease.
Time to reconsider that gym membership? We thought so.