Exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing your nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections, and protecting them from damage. There are multiple mechanisms at play here, but some are becoming more understood than others.
The rejuvenating role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is one of them. BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons. It also triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health.
Promote Intelligence And Better Mood With Just 20 Minutes A Day
A number of neurotransmitters, such as endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA, are also triggered by exercise. Some of these are well known for their role in mood control. Exercise, in fact, is one of the most effective prevention and treatment strategies for depression.
BDNF and endorphins are two of the primary factors triggered by exercise that help boost your mood, make you feel good, and sharpen your cognition. So, how much do you have to exercise in order to maintain a sunnier disposition and better memory long-term?
According to a 2012 study published in the journal Neuroscience, the ‘secret’ to increased productivity and happiness on any given day is a long-term investment in regular exercise. And a little each day appears to go further than a lot once or twice a week.
Here’s What Happens When You Stop Exercising
You probably expect that your muscle tone will take a beating once your workouts stop, but less expected changes will occur throughout your body. One of the first places to experience the repercussions may actually be your brain.
Research published in the journal Frontier in Aging Neuroscience revealed that endurance runners who skipped exercise for 10 days had reductions in blood flow to their brain’s hippocampus, which is a region associated with memories and emotions.
After about two weeks, meanwhile, your endurance may suffer, which means you may find yourself slightly more winded if you need to quickly climb a few flights of stairs. This is because of changes to your VO2 max (also known as maximal oxygen intake).
VO2 max is defined as the maximum volume of oxygen you can utilise in one minute of maximal or exhaustive exercise, and it’s used as a measure of endurance.
If your workouts take an even longer hiatus, you can expect increasingly noticeable changes to your body, both physically and aesthetically. You may start to notice your strength slipping after about two or four weeks with no activity. And after about six to eight weeks, you may start to gain weight.
There Are Times When You Should Skip A Workout
Skipping workouts generally isn’t recommended – unless you have one of these five valid reasons for not working out.
You’re sick – If you have a slight cold and you’re not overly tired, a quick workout can be beneficial in that it raises your body temperature and might help to fight off viruses;
You’re injured – Regular exercise can help you to prevent many injuries, however you’ll want to avoid exercising an injured area of your body. If you have a shoulder injury, you may still be able to work out your lower body (or vice versa), so long as you don’t aggravate the injured area. Avoid activities that cause pain and, if the injury is going to take a long time to heal, work with a physical therapist who can provide you with a safe exercise plan that promotes healing;
You’re exhausted – If you’ve had a poor night’s sleep, you may be better off sleeping in than getting up early for your morning workout. Like exercise, sleep is also essential for your health, and you generally don’t want to sacrifice one for the other. It’s difficult to catch up on sleep once you’re sleep-deprived, so make sleep a top priority. This isn’t an excuse to hit your snooze button daily, however;
You overdid it and you’re extremely sore – Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), or the muscle soreness you’ve experienced one to two days after exercise, is caused by inflammation stemming from microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. DOMS is normal and is not typically a sign that you should skip a workout; or
You’re having a marathon day – We all have those days when our schedules are jam-packed. Trying to fit in a long workout on such a day may not be in the cards. It’s OK to skip your workout when you get too busy – once in a while. However, resist using this all-too-common excuse to not exercise too often. The truth is, most of us are quite busy, so you need to make exercise a priority.
Regular workouts will help you to stay focused, think clearer and get sick less often. So, what’s not to like? It does take time, commitment and hard work, which is why the exercise programmes that last will be those you find most enjoyable. The key word is ‘enjoy’.
The more you look forward to your workouts, the more likely you are to keep doing them. As an added bonus, most people feel great after they workout, which provides additional motivation to keep going. If you don’t feel good after your work out – for instance you feel exhausted instead of energised – this is a sign that you may be exercising too much and need to take more time for recovery.
About the Author
This article was brought to you by Dr Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author. For more helpful articles, please visit Mercola.com