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Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson. What do these ultra-successful people have in common? They break a sweat first thing in the morning. Find out why they do it.
The benefits of running stretch beyond fitting into your old skinny jeans or warding off heart disease and diabetes. Running can improve your learning, mood, energy, confidence and work productivity (and possibly get you a better shot at that long-awaited promotion). We know, we know, we’ll say no more. Let’s get to it.
Running Enhances Learning
Running or just about any exercise that gets your heart pumping and sweat dripping can improve brain health and memory power. A study by the University of California shows that after performing moderate intensity, short duration exercises, research participants could better absorb and retain information.
Where was this information when you had that important presentation or test that required extra brain power, right?
When you exercise, your brain's plasticity is enhanced. Simply put, the brain improves itself with increased blood flow and brain-derived protein (also called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, for the more precise of you). This protein supports the health and functioning of the brain.
Exercising also increases the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. These reasons are why long-term exercises could reduce risks of Alzheimer, Huntington, and Parkinson’s disease.
So now that you know how exercise can supercharge your brain, it doesn’t hurt to wake up earlier in the morning. Lace up those sneakers and run the extra miles before meeting important clients or sitting for a test.
Running Enhances Mood
“Exercise is the single best thing you can do to your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning,” said John Rateyn, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. And he is not exaggerating.
Many studies have proven that regular exercise can improve mood as well as reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercises, such as running, even outperform psychotropic treatment in helping individuals with major depression. When conducted on healthy adults, the findings are pretty much the same. Participants reported improvements in mood and reductions in tension, anger and confusion following physical activity.
Even when you're having the worst of times at work or at school, going for a run can be an instant mood lifter.
Running Increases Energy
Some of you may think, “This is simply ridiculous.” Well, breaking a sweat after a long, exhausting day to get more energy may sound counter-intuitive. But, we promise, we’re not trolling you here.
The best way to fight off fatigue is to be active. A group of researchers at the University of Georgia have found that “sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to groups that did not exercise.”
Energy-inducing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine are pumped into the body by exercising. The reported energy level increase is as high as 20 percent.
Okay, it may not cure some of the more overworked, sleep-deprived of us, but it’s an improvement, nonetheless.
Perhaps, it’s time to retire the coffee mugs and energy drinks, since exercising has been scientifically proven to offer more advantages energy-wise. More energy equals to more things accomplished!
Running Could Boost Your Confidence
And no, we’re not talking about the confidence that comes from fitting into your old clothes, although that’s an equally important and commendable achievement.
The Harvard Business Review published a research study revealing that on top of reducing stress, exercising increases one's capability of “taking things on and getting them done.”
While this is indeed a matter of perception, the research finds that those who regularly exercise do not shy away from difficult tasks and consider them as challenges instead. When exercising, we tell ourselves to push harder, and we aspire to be stronger. This feeling lasts beyond the hour we invested in running or doing other exercises.
When you're feeling confident, you're ready to take on whatever challenges life throws at you!
So now that you know how exercise can supercharge your brain, it doesn’t hurt to wake up earlier in the morning, lace up those sneakers and run the extra miles before meeting important clients or sitting for a test.
We’re not saying that you should go out now and devise an exercise routine fit for Olympic athletes. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take that step towards success!
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