We’re always being told that we need to keep fit for our bodies. Whether it be to lose weight, keep diseases like diabetes at bay or improve the health of our hearts. It’s true that exercise will help with all of these, but did you know that keeping fit is also good for mental well being?
Your Brain is like a Muscle
Just like the biceps and triceps in your arms, to make them bigger and stronger you have to work them out. Your brain is exactly the same, despite the fact it’s an organ your brain will strengthen when exposed to exercise. Exercising causes numerous functions in your body that, as a side-effect, seriously improve the function and strength of your brain and therefore your mind. It can also strengthen your brain tissue.
What Happens to Your Brain when You Exercise?
One of the first brain-related health benefits of exercise that you’ll notice is that, when you get your sweat on, your body releases a neurotransmitter called endorphins from your pituitary gland. These endorphins create what is known as a feeling of positivity in the body that makes you forget about pain. They work in the same way as morphine does, but without the addictive side effects. By producing more endorphins in the brain you’ll find yourself getting improved sleep, reduced depression and boost self-esteem.
Studies with both children and adults have shown that just a little more exercise a week can seriously improve concentration, attention and even academic marks. Indeed, players of high-concentration games such as chess or poker really take advantage of personal fitness to improve their performance. Professional poker player Sorel Mizzi explained in an interview that exercise before a poker game is incredibly important, “I haven’t missed a gym session during the main event. Doing that before the tournament makes such a major difference to my mental clarity.” In fact, exercise has been shown to improve mental clarity for up to 10 hours.
Champion chess player Alexandra Kosteniuk similarly relies on physical fitness for performance. She advises that a good fitness level is essential before a chess tournament. When speaking about preparing for tournaments she said, “Nothing will prepare you better than being in best physical form.”
Perform Better in Stressful Situations
We might not all be poker or chess players, but reduced stress is definitely something all of us can take advantage of in our day-to-day lives. Most of us will experience stress in our jobs. Whether it be important meetings, dealing with customers or clients or being up-against a deadline, work can be very stressful. By nipping to the gym before work you will be giving yourself an advantage over your colleagues that day by reducing your stress levels and clearing your mind.
Just think, whatever your work or personal life throws you that day, your boosted brain health with be more than equipped to deal with anything.