A Look Inside The Brain During Exercise

There seems to be no end to the benefits of exercise. Humans need to move or else fall victim to what is often referred to as the sitting disease. If the majority of your day is spent sitting, your overall health will suffer, it can lead to weight gain, heart disease and other serious chronic illness, as you get older. Lack of movement can lead to heart attack, stroke, and a general loss in quality of life in our senior years.
Everyone agrees that exercise is physically great for the body. However, did you know that exercise also has a wide variety of benefits for the human brain? What exactly happens in our brains when we exercise to have such an impressive effect on our mental health?
What Actually Happens In the Brain during Exercise?
Exercise causes our heart pressure to rise, which sends a signal to the brain that the body is under stress. In response, a protein is released into our body called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” (BDNF). This protein is thought of as a “reset switch” – it repairs memory neurons, making thoughts seem crystal clear after exercising and putting the body at ease.
Simultaneously, endorphins are released into the brain, which are meant to limit the degree of pain and discomfort associated with exercise, even creating a sense of euphoria. Like BDNF, endorphins are released in response to the feeling of “stress” brought on by exercise. The term, “runner’s high” is the coin phrase used to describe the surge of endorphins during exercise that act as a natural anti-depressant.
The same antidepressant-like effect from a “runner’s high” results in a reduction in stress level hormones. Additionally, a study conducted in Stockholm showed that running stimulates cell growth in the hippocampus, which is the portion of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
How Our Mind and Body Are Affected
Together, BDNF and endorphins give us a “happy” feeling after exercise. These are somewhat addictive in nature, which is one reason why some people seem obsessed with exercising, although this “addiction” can be a healthy one.
Besides the short-term high from endorphins and BDNF, exercise also has long-term benefits. Studies show that people are happier and more productive throughout the day when they exercise. A Penn State research study showed that people who had worked out within the previous month were happier and more productive at work compared to those who had not exercised (but not quite to the same degree as those who had worked out earlier that day). People who exercise regularly have much better moods than those who don’t and retain a stronger sense of calmness throughout the day.
Exercise affects the brain on various fronts. Not only does it increase heart rate that pumps more oxygen to the brain, it also facilitates the release of various hormones that provides a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.
Research conducted at UCLA showed that working out stimulates the growth of new neuronal connections in a variety of important cortical areas of the brain.
How to Maximize the Benefits
20 Minutes
Based on this information, you might think that professional athletes are the happiest people on the planet. According to research conducted by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia showed that only 20 minutes of exercise is needed to reach that peak level of productivity, positive mood, and facilitates information processing and memory functions. The key is to turn it into a habit.
Mental and Physical Connection
There is an important mental and physical connection that can increase the benefits of exercise. For example, exercise that integrates different parts of brain activity, such as ballroom dancing that requires rhythm, strategy, coordination and thoughtfulness in movements stimulates cognitive health more than less complex workouts like running or cycling that do not necessarily engage diverse mental abilities.
Adding Exercise to Your Life
Working out in the morning before work or school helps to spike brain activity, prepares you for stresses you may incur during your day, allows for increased retention of new information and learning, and equips you to cope with complex situations that may arise.
Start-off easy – even just 5-10 minutes a day – and gradually increase the length and intensity of your workout. Going to a group or class at the gym makes exercising more fun, and it’s a great way to learn new techniques and to meet new fitness minded people.
However, getting motivated to go to the gym regularly can be a challenge, so try different exercises at home and outdoors in your neighborhood, such as jogging, biking, strength training, etc. Variety is the spice of life, and the more you vary your routine the better for your motivation and your body.
There are many apps on your smartphone that can provide you with workout sets for all experience levels and even guide you through the exercises. Furthermore, apps like Map My Fitness and Nike enable you to track your progress, which is a great way to stay motivated as you watch yourself improve.
Final Thoughts
Remember, the health of your mind and body are closely connected, and exercise is one of the best – if not the very best – ways to improve mental and physical health in both the long-term and short-term.
The long-term benefits of exercising regularly are immense – reduced risk of disease, improved mental health, stronger body/muscles, reduced stress, improved digestion, improved blood circulation, and much more.
Even just going on a 20-minute daily walk is immensely better for you than staying sedentary. Find a training partner, set a schedule, do whatever you have to do to get those endorphins and BDNF proteins pumping as often as you can!

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5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Wellness Today

You can do some simple things to ensure that you feel as fit and healthy as possible, starting today.  These are 5 simple changes that you can make to your lifestyle to improve your overall wellness.

  1. Get Some Sleep

It is no secret that sleep is important.  You may have noticed that sleeping helps you to avoid that tired feeling all day, and helps you to concentrate more.  Sleep is also a chance for your body to rejuvenate, and plenty of things still go on in your body’s various systems while you sleep.

If you don’t get enough sleep, it’s not only highly likely that you’ll be tired the next day, but your health can suffer too.

Being tired makes us emotional and stressed. It limits our concentration, and can even make us more susceptible to illnesses. Try to get around 7-8 hours per night for the best benefits that sleep has to offer.

  1. Breathe

It may seem like an unusual suggestion, but do you ever take the chance to just sit and breathe?  There are a lot of breathing exercises and even with just one session of concentrating on your breathing will leave you feeling more relaxed.

Over time if you do this at least once a day, you’ll find that you feel calmer, less emotional, and just generally better. Meditation is a good time to try out breathing techniques.

  1. Don’t Be So Convenient

For some reason, people feel that they are too busy to cook a proper meal each day.  This results in grabbing a quick meal on the way home from their local fast food place or they get frozen dinners that can be thrown in the oven or microwave when they get home. While these shortcuts may seem to save time, ultimately, both are very unhealthy choice to make.

Ready meals, processed food, and junk food are loaded with sugar, fat, salt and many more calories than our bodies need. Fast food also tends to be heavily processed and as it is often fried, the nutritional goodness for our bodies is practically non-existent.

Try to cut back on these unhealthy foods and instead cook from scratch. It is not difficult to prepare a healthy chicken breast with vegetables on the side for example and this is a far healthier option.

  1. Go For A Walk

Instead of putting off exercise, claiming that you don’t have enough money to afford a gym, or enough time to actually go to the gym, just take a step out of your front door.  You can walk anywhere and this is completely free.

Involve the whole family and go for a walk around the block or to the park if there is one nearby. There is absolutely no excuse for not going for a walk and you have plenty to gain from it too.

First of all, you’ll be able to enjoy gentle exercise that will still give you a good cardio workout to keep your heart pumping. You will also be able to enjoy some fresh air, which is essential for the brain and muscles.

Make it a nightly ritual that takes place right after dinner.

  1. Drink More

We’re not suggesting that you go to the bar and get drunk – quite the opposite actually.  You should really be drinking around 8 glasses of water per day and if you don’t do that and you suffer from headaches, then we’re willing to bet that you’re dehydrated and need some more liquid in your body.

Every time you go into your kitchen, try to remember to have a glass of water. Whether you’re making breakfast, lunch or dinner or if you’re just grabbing a snack, using this as a prompt to drink a glass of water is an effective way to remember to stay hydrated.

This will improve your overall health and can even have a positive effect on your appearance by improving the quality of your skin!

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Incorporating Meditative Movement Into A Regular Fitness Regimen

Meditative Movement combines breath awareness, flowing movements, and mental focus. In order to meet the characteristics associated with meditative movement, these three elements must exhibit certain qualities:

  • Regardless of the specific activity, the practitioner maintains a slow and deep breathing pattern.
  • The intensity of the physical activity associated with meditative movement ranges from low to moderate.
  • Meditative movement is characterized by an intense level of mental concentration.

Meditative movement may also be referred to as mindful meditation. Mindful meditation takes these characteristics a step further. It extends their application to general activities, for example walking, washing dishes or gardening may be done mindfully by changing the quality of attention, breath, and movement used during the activity.

Most people associate meditative movement with specific forms of exercise based on the intentional application of the mind-body connection. These popular exercise formats include yoga, tai chi, qigong, and Pilates.

According to a 2013 listing by StatisticBrain.com, 15 million people in the United States practice yoga and 8 million Americans practice Pilates. People practice these exercise formats for their ability to relieve stress, relax the mind and body, and improve physical fitness and health.

Many people practice yoga, Pilates, and other forms of meditative movement as part of their regular fitness regimen. They use their mind-body routine in a variety of ways:

  • Prior to more demanding physical activity, meditative movement may be applied as a means to dynamically stretch and warm the muscles and joints as well as focus the mind.
  • It may also be used as an extended cool down method to lengthen and relax muscles following vigorous physical activity.

The key to integrating meditative movement into a regular workout regimen lies in the intention. Why a person engages in meditative movement dictates when they do it as well as the type of meditative movement selected.

It is important to keep in mind many types of meditative movement act as fitness regimens with meditative aspects. Pilates function primarily as a rehabilitative form of exercise, which requires mental concentration for proper performance.

While yoga mainly focuses on the inner workings of the mind and spirit, the style of yoga practiced, informs how physically demanding it can be.

How To Incorporate Meditative Movement

  • When practicing a form of meditative movement before or following another fitness activity, gage the level of intensity for both. If using the meditative movement to warm up, follow it with a workout suited to your current fitness level and objectives.
  • If meditative movement follows your standard workout, Power Yoga might not be the best option unless you are exceptionally fit. A better choice might be a gentle restorative yoga class following your workout.
  • If you prefer intense workouts, running, fitness boot camps, weight lifting, high intensity interval training, etc., it might be better to practice some form of meditative movement on an entirely different day. By integrating meditative movement into your workout regimen in this way, it acts as one of your post workout recovery techniques.

As mentioned previously, the intensity of your meditative movement session needs to adapt to its intended purpose. A meditative movement program intended to aid recovery needs to be less intense than the preceding workout. For example, a high intensity interval training session should not be followed by a Power Yoga class the next day. A Hatha Flow, Gentle Vinyasa, or Restorative Yoga class would better serve the purpose of muscle recovery.

No Limits

Meditative movement does not need to be limited to certain modes of mind-body exercise. Any activity of low to moderate intensity may be transformed into meditative movement by incorporating the three characteristics of meditative movement into the activity.

Slowing and deepening the breath, performing the activity in a controlled and attentive manner while maintaining a mindful awareness of the breath and the action transforms walking, performing household chores or brushing one’s teeth into a form of meditative movement.

While the more mundane activities may not provide a noticeable physical workout, the mental and intrinsic physiological benefits, mental clarity, lower blood pressure, improved circulation and more, remain.

Moreover, while the physical benefits of traditional exercise are found in forms of meditative exercise such as Tai Chi, and yoga, the mental and emotional acumens of those are not obtained through traditional exercise, such as running, cycling, or weight training. This is something that should be a factor when planning a well-rounded fitness regimen.


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Top 10 Foods for an Incredible All Natural Energy Boost

Fatigue is one of the most common conditions that plagues everyone, from busy high school and college students to older working adults. While the most obvious cure for constant fatigue is to get a solid eight hours each night, or to take a quick nap in the afternoon, is it no secret that this is not always possible.

In fact, studies show that most humans do not get nearly enough quality sleep that they need to have optimal energy throughout the day.

This lack of energy is the reason that this newest trend of energy drinks has become so prevalent. But, the problem is that energy drinks, including, but not limited to Red Bull contain high amounts of sugar and caffeine. Various medical experts have stated that these drinks are ‘another form of drugs.’

These drinks contain stimulants that cause rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure and stimulation of the central nervous system, much like, stimulant drugs.  The FDA reports that the drink 5-Hour Energy might be linked to as many as 13 deaths in the past four years.

And, another important thing to consider is the fact that there is a very real crash and burn effect once these drinks wear off. And, often people will keep drinking them once the effect of the first one wears off.

For those who are low on energy, unable to make it to bed early enough, and living demanding lives that really have no room for fatigueand the lack of energy they continuously feel, there is another option to promote incredible energy in a healthy and natural way. And, that is through a sensible diet and foods that provide lasting, all natural and real energy to keep you going throughout the day.

The Top 10 Foods for Energy

  1. Eggs: Egg yolks contain high levels of essential B-vitamins, which are in charge of converting the food you eat into energy, and Vitamin D, which helps build and maintain strong bones. While eggs are also a source of saturated fats, these unwanted additions can be avoided by making a breakfast of one full egg and up to three egg whites.
  1. Edamame: Edamame are green soybeans and are filled with energizing B-vitamins, such as, phosphorous and copper. These are important for breaking down carbohydrates into glucose which the body uses for energy. Edamame are also high in fiber, protein, and good carbs which make them the perfect snack to revive your energy throughout the day.
  1. Coffee: It’s no coincidence that coffee shops and cafes can be found on almost every corner in most cities. Filled with energizing caffeine, coffee is a great way to get a boost of energy when you need it most. Some studies show that coffee is even effective for fighting cancer. A simple eight-ounce cup is perfect for providing the needed amount of energy to get through the average work day.
  1. Whole Grains: Found in most cereals, whole grains are high in fiber and responsible for the slow release of glucose which helps keep you full, focused, and energized throughout the day. Instead of spiking blood sugar levels like one might after eating candy or throwing back an energy drink full of refined sugars, whole grains keep you consistently energized naturally.
  1. Melons: These succulent fruits help fight chronic fatigue by keeping the body hydrated. Honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe, and similar melons are 90% water, which means snacking on these fruits will flood the body with nutrients, minerals, and plenty of natural hydration to keep you awake and alert.
  1. Cheese: Another protein packed food is cheese. Like eggs, cheese is filled with protein and other energy inducing B-vitamins. The best cheese to consume is farmer’s cheese as it presses the cheese curds until they have been separated from the liquid, whey.
  1. Walnuts: A natural source of melatonin, walnuts are a great snack to eat before bed. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body after the sun goes down to help make you sleepy. Of course, a good night’s sleep is the best plan to combat fatigue, so add walnuts to your pantry for the perfect bedtime snack.
  1. Green Tea: For those who don’t enjoy the taste of coffee or can’t tolerate the high caffeine content, there’s green tea. This delicious tea is filled with L-Theanine which is an amino acid that helps you feel exhilarated and alert to get through your day.
  1. Quinoa: Known as a super-grain, quinoa is filled with more protein than any other grain. It contains high levels of protein and amino acids,such as, methionine, lysine, and cysteine.
  1. Water: It may seem too simple, but water is one the best foods for incredible energy. By simply drinking at least eight cups of water every day, people can stay hydrated which in turn gives them energy, alertness, and consistent hydration.

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Would Any Stage of Scalp Psoriasis Cause Hair Loss?

Like some of the other most mysterious diseases, scalp psoriasis is another medical condition that requires a lot of research to find its exact causes and cures. However, these past thirty years have been some of the most developmental times of this skin problem. A lot of work has been done to find ways to control it.

One of the fears that haunt the people having psoriasis is its relationship with hair loss. Most are not exactly aware of the relationship between scalp psoriasis and hair loss, which makes it a very serious skin problem for many men and women.

Because the factors that cause scalp psoriasis are still to be uncovered, a common proposition that goes with this problem is that is incurable. This makes hair loss one of the gravest fears for the people having this skin problem. The answer to the question is something between yes and no.

If scalp psoriasis is at the initial stage and the patient has started taking medication to inhibit its spread, the chances of hair loss are equal to being none. Overall, scalp psoriasis does not cause hair loss. Nevertheless, it does cause the hair in the area where it has occurred to thin. This thinning of the hair gives the feel of hair being lost, which usually causes people to panic.

If scalp psoriasis is not controlled and is left to spread, the scales pile up on the skin, which may cause the patient to start losing hair. But unlike other skin conditions or other sorts of hair fall, this type is usually temporary. Once the skin heals and returns to its normal state and the effects of psoriasis begin to recede, the hair also starts growing back.

A good way to avoid hair loss during scalp psoriasis is to continuously use a good natural oil and moisturizer to ensure the disease on the leash. Getting a formal treatment for the skin and the hair as well also ensures longevity of hair health and ensuring the hair to retain their genuine life and vigor. If you are having scalp psoriasis hair loss, it is better to consult a doctor right away to control the condition. Just be known that the hair fall is temporary.


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Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

  • For those carrying deep stress and tension in their muscles, the deep tissue massage is the best option.
  • It is made to release austere stress and tension within both the muscles and the connective tissues, also known as fascia.
  • While other massage methods focus on the top muscles, deep tissue massage therapy targets those muscles located below the top muscles, deep within the body.

Athletes, laborers, construction workers, and others who are involved in serious physical activity are often those who benefit most from a deep tissue massage. There are actually varying types of deep tissue massages to match the client’s overall needs.

Deep tissue massage means to literally apply a deeper pressure in order to reach the deeper muscles. This type of massage therapy goes beyond relaxation and comfort and is used to treat muscular and skeletal disorders.

Unlike the deep pressure massage, deep tissue massage therapy does not target the whole body, but only a certain section depending upon the client’s discomfort.

The pressure in a deep tissue massage can be directed to the deep muscle layers as well as the superficial and fascia muscles and tissues.

No matter what body structure needs the healing effects of a deep tissue massage, a skilled massage therapist can work with different muscles and areas.

This massage type is also very intense, making it quite dangerous for an inexperienced masseur or masseuse to work on a client with real disorders or tension problems.

If a deep tissue massage is given by anyone other than an experienced professional, it could result in injury and other serious problems.


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