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Brain & Heart: What You Don’t Know About Exercise


Exercise! Everyone knows exercising boasts endless benefits; from getting stronger, building muscle and losing weight / fat to feeling better, more confident, enjoying more energy and alleviating chronic aches and pains.

If you’re currently exercising, you probably got started for one or more of those reasons – right?

Or, if you’re thinking it’s time to start exercising, it’s also likely for one or more of these reasons – right?

No matter how you spin it, making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle guarantees YOU enjoy a high-quality life not just today but forever and ever, especially if you want to age gracefully and enjoy retirement.

Aside from these more obvious benefits, what else happens to your body when you exercise?

Thanks for being curious because today’s blog is teaching you how exercise plays a vital and important role when it comes to brain and heart health:

  • How exercise makes you SMARTER!

  • How exercise makes your heart BIGGER and STRONGER!

Afterall, your brain and heart work equally as hard as your arm and leg muscles (all while getting stronger, too!).


BRAIN HEALTH: EXERCISE MAKES YOU SMARTER!

Energy Levels & Memory

Your brain requires a lot of energy to function…like a LOT.  While your brain only takes up about 2% of your body’s weight, it uses around 20% of energy from the carbs you eat – whoa!  This high metabolic demand requires lots of blood flow through the brain so the more you exercise and move around, the more blood is pumped through the body and into the brain.

High intensity, metabolic workouts (just like our Interval Classes @ Results Fitness) are important for overall brain health.  Getting and keeping your heart rate up reduces stress receptors in your brain called the hippocampus.  The hippocampus is responsible for your memory, so, by increasing blood flow to this area via exercise, you are improving your short- and long-term memory PLUS, increasing your body’s ability to retain new information!

Yup, that’s right: exercising makes you *smarter*!

Mental Health

As difficult as your workouts can be, your brain loves the hustle. Exercising increases the levels of two important neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, responsible for regulating your body’s feelings of happiness, reward and motivation.  After a killer workout, the increase in these neurotransmitters lead you to that magical feeling of a “job well done” and of course, wanting more!  Regulating these neurotransmitters is very important for maintaining mental health by decreasing the risk of depression, improving motivation levels and regulating emotions.

Another important pair of neurotransmitters released during exercise are epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These two hormones regulate your ‘flight-or-fight’ response.  Together, these chemicals increase your heart rate and the amount of blood pumping from the heart as well as blood pressure and blood sugar levels (which is a totally good and normal thing to happen during metabolic exercise!).  Epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine also help break down fat to fuel the body with energy!

Comparatively, less movement and fewer complex movements cause your brain to shrink overtime – yikes!  This is exactly why both Results Fitness Small Group Personal Training Sessions and Interval Classes include different combinations of complex movements (think strength training/lifting weights paired with plyometric training-based exercises like jumping, skipping, hopping, etc.).

Moral of the exercise story? Keep moving and grooving to keep your brain big and mind happy 😊


HEART HEALTH: EXERCISE MAKES YOUR HEART BIGGER & STRONGER!

Already feel like your heart’s big enough ‘cause you have SO much love to give?

Get excited – there is MORE of your love to go around!

When exercising, your heart rate increases to keep up with the body’s demand to perform each movement – think exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, chest presses, burpees, sled pushes, etc.  Your muscles need blood to keep working, and it’s the heart’s job to get that blood to where it needs to be! 

The heart is a 4-chamber organ responsible for pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body day in and day out.  It functions in a fairly simple way: blood coming in one side and going out the other! 

As you exercise, your body becomes more efficient in many ways – for example:

  • Your muscles can lift heavier weights!

  • You can do more work in the same amount or less time!

  • Your heart gets better at pumping blood throughout the body. 

The heart’s ability to pump blood is measured by something called Cardiac Output (CO) and is determined by two different factors:

  1. Heart Rate (HR): The faster your heart is beating during work, the more opportunity it has to pump all that blood.

  2. Stroke Volume (SV).  The volume of blood being pushed out of the heart per beat.  If the heart can pump a greater volume of blood to those hard-working muscles, they will be able to work harder and for longer durations of time. 

Heart Rate (HR) x Stroke Volume (SV) = Cardiac Output (CO):  the total volume of blood being pumped out of the heart per minute.

It might seem overwhelming at first, but once you break it down, the overall concept is a fairly simple:  as you exercise, your heart literally GROWS!  The muscles in your heart get thicker, bigger, stronger which means your heart is more effective at pumping blood and oxygen through the body.  Over time, that means it takes less effort to pump more blood.

More blood = more work you can complete when exercising = the BEST results and overall health!


Isn’t this cool stuff? Who knew exercising not only makes you smarter but your heart bigger, stronger and more efficient?!

Still not convinced you need exercise to improve your mental health because you don’t have any diagnosed mental health or memory issues?

STOP . RIGHT . THERE!

It still matters!  Just because you may not have any diagnosed mental health issues, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear!  Working out your brain is just as important for long term health and wellbeing as working out your muscles.  You might not be able to physically see the progress, but in the long term, you will notice overall improvement in mood and memory 😊.

Worried about exercising because you have high blood pressure and do not want it to increase?

Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) can be caused by many things, but EVERYONE’S blood pressure increases during any form of exercise.  It must increase in order to pump all that blood out to all your muscles!  Once your body has cooled down from intense exercise, your blood pressure will return to whatever is normal for you.  Whether it’s resistance focused training in a SGPT or metabolic focused training in Large Interval Classes, all that moving will lower your blood pressure over time, increase your heart’s efficiency, and make your heart into one strong muscle indeed!


ICYMI: Remember, exercise not only aids in weight/fat loss, muscle growth, helping you move/feel better BUT also improves your brain’s function to retain information while improving your overall mental health: mood, energy levels, depression and anxiety. 

Double bonus! Exercise makes your heart more efficient at its job of keeping you living healthy, happy and strong by pumping blood throughout your body so you can do more work with less effort.  Any movement is good movement, not just for your muscles, but your two most important organs as well!

IF you are currently exercising, take note of what your body’s doing the next time you work out. Pay specific attention to your ability to do more work overtime. And, it’s not just because your biceps are getting stronger but because YOU are helping your body become more efficient at creating dopamine and serotonin (your feel-good hormones) while improving your Cardiac Output!  Keeping up with a (consistent) combination of interval/cardio training and strength /resistance training, and your heart + brain will be thanking you for taking such great care of yourself 😊.

IF you’re thinking it’s time to start exercising, schedule your FREE 1:1 Strategy Session now with our team to learn exactly how to get started and how we will work as the dream team to help you live healthy, happy and strong while making you even smarter and heart even bigger!

 

Remember, you are too lit to quit now! You CAN and WILL achieve your health, fitness and nutrition goals!

 

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