March 20, 2015

This Is Your Brain on Exercise

Exercise. It's so simple. Sure, lots of people go off the deep end. I'm not sure why any middle-aged man or mother of 3 has any need for running a 50-miler or bench pressing 495 pounds. There are always extremists. But we don't all have to be. 

I try to start the day (6 days a week) with exercise. Now I have some friends who think I'm crazy. "I can't function in the morning!", they say. I get it. One friend of mine goes religiously during his lunch break 3 days a week. Another buddy goes on the way home from work every weekday. If something works for you - your body, your schedule, your family - work it. For me, I have always preferred to start my day in the gym or out on the sidewalk. Obviously there are some days that it just doesn't work out. Some days you adjust the schedule. Others days you realize that your body just needs a break. (Yes, that happens once in awhile.) But for me, I have grown to not just physically, but mentally and emotionally benefit from knocking it out first thing in the morning. I wanted to share a little about WHY.

Observe the chart.

If you're my age, you may remember the "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs." campaign. Pretty effective. I think this picture tells an even greater story. Exercise not only greatly contributes to increasing production of serotonin - a chemical in your brain that effects mood, energy, and focus - but also (possibly more important) its release. Here's a great article from LiveStrong (go HERE) on The Effects of Exercise on Serotonin Levels. You can Google Serotonin Exercise Brain and find countless information on the subject. If you do any reading or research at all and begin to understand the mental, psychological, and emotional effects that even a small amount of physical activity can have on you, you quickly understand how beginning your day like this can impact everything else that happens before you crawl back in bed that night.

Your emotions - reactions, responses.

Your relationships - the level of patience you display.

Your mood - how you see the world, your circumstances

Some people look at this from a different angle. There are many who say that working out in the afternoon - let's say on your way home from work - sleep better at night. They find themselves snacking less and less before bed (on junk food, that is). There are certainly countless arguments for why working out at a certain time of day are the most beneficial. But that's not the point, debate, or conversation that I think is most crucial here. It's simply this: Exercise is PRIORITY! The physical, emotional, psychological, and mental benefits of exercise (even as little as determining to walk fast for 30 minutes just 3 or 4 times a week) are too great to pass up. There are even relational and familial benefits when you choose to be active with friends and/or family. So stop making excuses, formulate a plan, have some fun, and change your life. NOW!

Take another look at your brain.

Then take another look at your brain on exercise.

Any questions?

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