I’m sure you’ve heard about food being a drug? Well, exercise is a drug, too. Exercise literally changes brain biochemistry. The blood and energy supply to your brain improves. The genes in nerve cells signal the production of special proteins that induce nerve cells to grow, branch, and make connections with one another. It’s a process called neuroplasticity. I bet you bought into the myth that once you lose brain cells, they’re gone for good. Well, exercise brings them back in a process called neurogenesis.
Exercise is also an amazing, natural antidepressant. Going back to genetics, if either of your parents or grandparents suffered from depression, anxiety, or mood instability, you are prone to suffer as well. Depression runs in my family, and I suffered greatly until I changed my lifestyle. I have been living drug-free ever since, and when I miss my workout for two to three days the blues star creeping in. Exercise can literally save your life! It makes you feel good, think better, and feel emotionally stronger.
Right after you start exercising, the brain invigorates certain chemicals that reinforce pleasure, boost mood, and help you overcome fear and anxiety. For instance:
* Serotonin boosts your mood.
* Dopamine is a pleasure-producing chemical. (Yes, exercise is pleasure boosting, thanks to this chemical!)
* Epinephrine and Norepinephrine are two hormones released quickly after exercise that put immune cells on active alert, accelerating their response to an invasion from germs.
* Endogenous Opioids are narcotic-like substances produced by the body and are known to be involved in the reduction of fear.
You should understand by now that with the powerful combo of food and exercise, at any age you can build a better brain (and appear more youthful), making your body work for you instead of against you!