If you were to stand on a busy corner to collect surveys asking peoples opinion about exercise, I'm betting most people will say exercise is important for good health. In fact, I'm sure those who do and don't exercise will share that opinion. One step further, I bet most people believe exercise is important for weight loss.
There are several nationwide programs pushing exercise as a key pillar for weight loss and that the obesity epidemic can be reversed with regular activity. As you have noticed here at HTC, we strongly promote exercise as a vital part of a healthy lifestyle but NOT, I repeat NOT what leads to weight loss. This post is not intended to address this debate. This post is intended to address the other positive contributions exercise brings to the body.
Did you know exercise is being studied for its importance even during pregnancy for both mom and baby? That's right. There is a strong relationship between active mothers and improved cognitive function at an early age for baby.
In fact, exercise is being shown to promote brain growth and maintenance from birth to death. In developmental ages exercise helps to promote improved development of the hippocampus. During the particularly stressful time frame of youth development, the teenage years, regular exercise of 60 minutes of vigorous activity each day helps to improve concentration, attention, planning, problem-solving, working memory, and inhibitory control.
As we age, regular exercise may prevent and/or at least delay the progression of dementia. A review of date from 2009 shows those who are most active have a risk reduction of developing dementia that is 28% less and 45% less than those who are not active of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, oxidative stress can be decreased with regular exercise. So what does that mean? Well for starters, physical activity plays a role in maintaining a sharp mind, as noted above, but it is also a natural anti-depressant. New studies are looking into the relationship between mood disorders and exercise. There is a clear connection with reducing depression but other mood disorders are also being added to this list. Exercise may soon be a regular component of treatment for patients struggling with depression and anxiety. This is because exercise optimizes the levels and function of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin. We actually discuss these benefits with patients who go through the HTC program.
So the next time you think about exercising....do it. But don't do it to lose weight. Exercise to strengthen your brain and improve your mood. Remember that exercise is about so much more than physical changes to the body.