Stressed? Jog it out.

Exercise? Ew. I used to absolutely hate anything related to exercise. Everything. I specifically remember this one night when I was at home doing homework and I was so stressed because I had to do a math project and I didn’t understand some of the things we had to do. When I texted my friends to ask them how they were feeling no one responded; then, an hour later they responded saying they weren’t stressed. This could have been because they may or may not have understood the project, but perhaps it could be that they had just finished their sports and were feeling less stressed. I told one of my friends that I was really worried and she suggested that I go for a run. I HATE RUNNING, but somehow she convinced me. When I got back I felt refreshed and ready to work my best. Coincidence?

Exercise benefits your mood and stress. It’s known to help people with issues around anxiety. It can also boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. BDNF stands for Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; it stimulates the growth of brain cells, which can also help with your memory. The more exercise you do the more BDNF you produce. In Brain Rules the author mentioned a few experiments that they did but one of them I found very intriguing.

It was a project that a few researchers performed. It consisted of a study on a few kids who didn’t do well in school and rarely exercised. They made them jog for 30 minutes 2–3 times a week and their test scores improved and I couldn’t help but connect this with my anecdote. That’s why at schools they keep the sport practices at a consistent rate (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday). In the project I mentioned above, a few weeks later the researchers made the kids stop exercising and their test scores dropped again.

Why is it that when I went for a run and came back I was ready to work more than I was before? For example, when you are walking your foot makes contact with the ground sending waves through the arteries which increases blood flow to the brain. Getting blood to the brain is the most important function because it brings oxygen and nutrients.

In Brain Rules the author mentioned that if you didn’t grow up fit, you didn’t grow up at all. If only people knew how exercise could benefit them, it would be an ongoing motive.