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by Casey McIlvaine

Exercising is not only about toning your thighs, building biceps, or keeping your belly flat, it is also the best thing you can do for your brain.

How So?

Daily exercise zaps harmful stress chemicals, boosts problem-solving skills, planning, and makes you more attentive. It also alleviates pain, both physical and mental. Exercise affects many sites within the nervous system and sets off pleasure chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that make us feel calm, happy, and euphoric. There is nothing better than stimulating your nervous system (to function at a higher level) than through exercise.

Working out also helps keep us from ruminating by altering blood flow to areas in the brain involved in triggering us to relive stressful thoughts. In addition, a study from the University of California at San Francisco found that women who were stressed and exercised for at least forty five minutes over three days showed fewer signs of aging compared to stressed women who did not exercise. Further research also suggests that burning three hundred and fifty calories three times a week will reduce the symptoms of depression as effectively as antidepressants.  Exercising actually stimulates the growth neurons in certain regions of the brain damaged during depression!

Through exercise, brain chemicals called “growth factors” increase to help make new brain cells and new connections (between brain cells to help you learn!) In addition, engaging in complicated activities allows brain cells to grow and enhances our attention and concentration skills. German researchers found that high school students scored better on high attention tasks after doing ten minutes of a complicated fitness routine compared to ten minutes of regular activity. Those students who did not exercise scored the worst. Furthermore, self-esteem and body image is improved just by seeing fitness improvements!

The benefits of exercise are endless to your physical, emotional, mental being!

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