Fit Five #2: Sweat

When we talk about Sweat, we’re really just talking about good, old-fashioned exercise. We prefer the term “sweat” because it’s a good reminder that effective exercise generally gets your heart rate moving and the sweat flowing! Good exercise doesn’t just equal physical results and today we’re sharing more about the different benefits you can find from consistent exercise.


Exercise and Your Brain

The benefits of exercise go far beyond how you look in a mirror. While many of us are aware of the effects of exercise on our waistline and cardiovascular health, exercise may have an even greater effect on how we think, act, and feel.


The Effects of Exercise on the Brain

Kids and Physical Activity

Kids who exercise on a regular basis have been shown to have an easier time

concentrating. They also tend to sleep better and get better grades.

Young Adults and Exercise

For younger people, regular exercise can increase the volume of the right hippocampus and help maintain a strong brain structure into middle adulthood.

Older Adults and Healthy Aging

As we get older, our brains begin to shrink. However, regular exercise has been shown to help decrease the rate in which our brains age. Regular exercise prevents both gray and white matter in the brain from shrinking and protects the frontal, temporal, and parietal cortices associated with cognitive function.


How Exercise Helps With Depression

Multiple studies have shown that getting regular exercise helps people combat various mental illnesses and tendencies, including dementia, depression, and anxiety

The act of exercising makes it less likely for a person to develop depression. This is especially true for women. One study showed that women who sat for at least seven hours a day were more likely to experience depression than those who only needed to stay put for four or fewer hours.

Several studies indicate that exercise is a better answer to depression than antidepressant drugs in many cases. Working out helps to normalize insulin and balance positive feeling hormones, including serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, GABA, and glutamate. There are also studies that suggest that training muscles may help metabolize some stress chemicals in the body.



Additional Effects of Exercise for Mental Health

For those who are looking for more of the physical benefits of exercise, including weight loss, it can help to focus on the mental aspects of exercise first, rather than simply getting hung up on the number on the scale. Looking at diet and exercise from just a physical standpoint often sets people up for disappointment, leading them to walk away from their regimen.

By combating stress, depression, and anxiety, those who are overweight, or even those who don’t feel well due to an unhealthy lifestyle, are less likely to turn to unhealthy foods or overeat due to stress or overly intense emotions.

Having a good body image is important, but it is more important to be able to function well at and simply enjoy every aspect of your life.

By making a point to exercise regularly, you may be on your way to achieving both.