Imagine what your day would be like if you could boost your motivation levels, improve your mood, attention levels and memory... what could you achieve?
Today we talk about the powerhouse upstairs… the brain – don’t worry I won’t bore you with all of the geeky science (much). Your brain is an adaptable organ, a bit like lifting weights to increase your muscular strength, if you work your brain you can improve its function. But how does exercise improve your brain function? And what could that mean for you?
Improving brain function: the terrific trio
Exercise stimulates chemicals in the brain and positively influences the neurotransmitters; dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine (this is as sciencey as we’ll get – I promise). Dopamine helps to control the brains reward and pleasure centres, allowing us to see rewards and take action to move towards them.
In layman’s terms, it’s responsible for our motivation levels. Exercise increases dopamine levels, therefore increasing our motivation levels... whether that’s motivation to get a report done, clean the house or a get an assignment finished, dopamine is our let’s get sh*t done friend.
The next neurotransmitter you want to influence is serotonin. This is like the policeman of the brain by influencing our mood and keeping brain activity under control – ‘no ma’am you may not get distracted by those shoes with 30% off, get back to work!’.
Low levels of serotonin can also be linked to depression and anxiety, and guess what helps to increase serotonin and keep you happy? Dah dah dahhh... you got it,exercise! A good diet and some time in the sun can also help to increase serotonin levels.
The final neurotransmitter to complete the terrific trio is norepinephrine. An increase in norepinephrine increases attention levels, helping you to concentrate and stay focused for longer. Who doesn’t need some of that in their lives?!
So, going back to my opening statement... imagine what an increase in these neurotransmitters could mean for your work or personal life. And you don’t need to spend millions on magic pills or wise wizards of the world... just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help to improve the terrific trio and improve your brain function for a more productive day.
Training your brain
So, what could you do? You don’t need to run miles to achieve an increase in the levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Any activity that increases your heart rate will increase the levels of the neurotransmitters including; cycling, brisk walking, exercise classes, yoga, and outdoor sports.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or confined to a gym either. Be creative and have fun with exercise. Include your friends on a brisk walk, run around with the bambinos in the local park or get your groove on with one of the many exercise classes available.