We’ve all been there – we’re exhausted both mentally and physically, but we still manage to push ourselves and get to the gym. Why do we do it? Because we know how much better we’ll feel after a workout. We leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and invigorated.
So, what creates this dramatic improvement in mood, mental health and even memory following a workout?
Simply put, it’s the change in brain biochemistry that takes place when you lace up. The human brain is made up of cells called neurons – 100 billion of them – that transmit chemical signals between each other and allow you to interpret the world, both inside and outside. These chemical signals, called neurotransmitters, are responsible for how you feel, how you think, and how you behave.
Two types of transmitters in particular – endorphins and serotonin – are responsible for why you feel so good when you exercise.
Endorphins are the body’s internal painkiller. So instead of feeling pain, endorphins leave you feeling pleasure, the “runners high.”
Serotonin is a mood-boosting neurotransmitter and is known as the “happy chemical” because it too makes us feel good. Exercise is one of the best ways to boost serotonin in the brain.
Another brain compound called brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which promotes cognitive health in areas such as memory, learning and depressive illness, is also triggered by exercise.
Of, course understanding the inner workings of your brain on exercise is more than just a nice set of facts to know. Knowing exactly why exercise helps improve your mood can be a powerful tool to get you to the gym on those days when you would prefer to skip it.
Recipe of the Week:
Honey-Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots make a great side dish. Roasted to tender perfection in an awesome brown butter honey garlic sauce, they just might become your new favorite way to roast carrots.
Quote of the Week:
“Cling to your possibilities, not your limitations.”