How Does Exercise Influence Brain Health?

The main job of a psychologist and a psychiatrist is to improve the mental health and well-being of their patients; while traditional therapy and prescription medication have been shown to help alleviate symptoms of mental illness, a good amount of effort also needs to come from the patient if they want to improve the way they feel. Happiness is something that needs to be practiced and sought after every day in order to achieve it. It is often the routines that we set for ourselves that can contribute to the state of our emotional affairs. More and more compelling evidence praises the physical and mental health benefits of exercise; exercise is shown to improve mental health markers.

Exercise is Shown to Improve Mental Health Markers

One in ten adults living in America has been diagnosed with depression. Mental health is still not a priority when it comes to the healthcare system, so those numbers may actually be higher, as many people see certain mental disorders – such as anxiety and depression – as a defect of character, rather than a treatable condition. Despite mental health treatment options’ progression in

recent years, more work is needed to truly de-stigmatize mental disorders.

On a lighter note, a Harvard Health review recently reported the fact that regular exercise has been shown to have the same amount of efficacy in the treatment of depression as many pharmaceutical antidepressants. However, people that suffer from severe depression or treatment-resistant depression may still need pharmaceuticals, in addition to pharmaceutical treatment and therapy.

Exercise is shown to improve mental health markers by releasing endorphins and protecting the body against diseases caused by excess weight, such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and obesity. Exercise has also been shown to support nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and pre-frontal cortex; these are areas of the brain responsible for long-term memory, spatial navigation, emotional expression, language, judgement, planning, and personality development. People who are depressed often have a smaller hippocampus compared to their happy counterparts. Exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus by a statistically-significant amount.

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These areas of the brain are repaired through exercise. Regular low-intensity exercise will spur the release of neurotrophic growth factors, which encourage nerve cells in the brain to grow and make new connections. Regular sustained-state exercise has also been shown to repair and heal existing nerve connections.

How Long till I see Noticeable Differences?

The benefits of exercise are innumerable and include the reduction of inflammation, the reduction of insulin resistance, and as mentioned above, the stimulation of new growth factors in the brain. Measurable changes in the brain were shown after a program of moderate intensity had been adopted over a period of six months to a year. An increase in the volume of certain brain regions has huge positive implications for all areas of your life! If you are currently seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, talk to them about a regular exercise plan to see how it will fit with your current treatment plan.

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2019-04-11T15:24:33+00:00 April 11th, 2019|