ATLANTA — Research shows most Americans are snacking more and exercising less during the pandemic, while experts insist regular workouts are good for your body and mind.
Our bodies are hardwired for movement. Early man had to move to survive.
Now, exercise drives our desire to stay fit but a nice run through the park isn’t just for your legs, lungs, and heart.
“Our productivity can improve,” says Cathy Spencer-Browning of the fitness company MOSSA. “We can be smarter. We can be able to focus more.”
Strenuous exercise is a form of stress that tells our brain to release chemicals to help us feel better.
Dopamine helps relieve pain and can lead to what’s known as a runner’s high.
Spencer-Browning tells us exercise teaches our body how to regulate those chemicals.
“Our brain circuitry improves,” says Spencer-Browning.
It creates an environment for brain cells to grow.
“We learn better, we can remember better, we can be more creative,” says Spencer-Browning.
Just as you read or do crossword puzzles to stimulate the brain, exercise introduces different challenges.
“There’s a whole host of things we get from exercise we might not get from a crossword puzzle,” says Spencer-Browning. “Anytime we stimulate it in different ways we’re creating these new connections.”
The nice part is that we don’t have to go on a 10-mile run to see results.
“A quick walk around the block with your dog can be as effective for brain health,” says Spencer-Browning. “For our brain to be as resilient and high functioning as we want it to be, we need movement.”
Meaning, if work has put you in a fog or you’re stuck with a case of writer’s block, a quick walk can exercise the brain and get you back on track.