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NYU Professor: Exercise Affects Your Brain in Three Ways

Update Date: Dec 29, 2016 01:35 PM EST
CrossFit Event For Veteran Heroes With Tim & Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Graham Holmberg attends the Band-Aid Brand & Team Red, White And Blue Host CrossFit Event For Veteran Heroes on May 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo : Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

Wendy Suzuki, a professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, explains that exercising will affect your brain in three important ways. It can give you a better mood, a better focus, and better long-term memory.

The first is your mood will improve. This happens as a result of an increase in four key neurotransmitters and hormones: serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and cortisol. Similarly, a low level of these neurotransmitters and hormones has been linked with cases of depression.

The aforementioned neurotransmitters and hormones are all released when your body is put on stress. An increase in the hormones help relax the person while exercising. When this happens, the person will be placed in a better mood during and after exercising. However, too much exercise can also put the body in too much stress and can also have a negative impact on the person's overall mood.

Prior to an understanding of neurotransmitters and hormones, there were no known biochemical remedies for depression. However, upon their discovery, pharmaceutical companies were able to imitate them which sometimes had unpleasant effects. Natural regulation of neurotransmitters and hormones will thus help people with depression and other similar psychological disorders.

The second thing that happens to the brain while exercising is a marked increase in alertness and focus. Exercising is thus not only a physical workout but also a mental one as well.

 "Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions," says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.

The third important thing that happens to the brain while exercising is it stimulates the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus which is critical for long-term memory. This phenomenon was noticed in rodents who were tested.

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