Body Kinetics trainer Edyta Saltsman laid out some helpful tips on how to push yourself to exercise more often. One way to look at it, she says, is to consider the long-term health benefits, which are too many to not be compelled to lace up your sneakers and start working out. Getting physically fit is one of the major benefits, but did you know that exercise also ‘sculpts’ the brain? It’s true; physical activity is one of the best things you can do to increase brain health and here are the reasons why:

Changes blood flow to the brain

A groundbreaking study from the University of Maryland looked at the effect exercise had on the blood flow to the brain. They found that exercise decreased cerebral blood flow in a group of adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), while at the same time improving their scores on cognitive tests. On the other hand, participants without MCI experienced elevated blood flow to the brain while reporting higher cognitive results. In either case, exercise intervened with the circulation of blood to the brain, and both yielded positive results.

Improves cognitive function

In relation to the previous point, a change in cerebral blood flow can increase cognitive function. When you workout, you might notice how more focused you are. This is one of the major positive effects of regular physical exercise. Neuroscientist and researcher Joyce Gomes-Osman noted some of the other cognitive gains included “planning and initiation of tasks, processing speed and executive function, which is the ability to focus and manage tasks.” Memory enhancement is also one of the benefits of regular exercise. Simply put, individuals who like to work out often can approach their daily tasks with a much clearer head.

Boosts mood

Are you in a bad mood? Working out can change that and it’s not just an old wives’ tale. Washington Post journalist Scott Douglas gathered evidence that illustrates how exercise leads to mood enhancement. Purposeful exercise, meaning workouts that you actually enjoy doing, is the most uplifting type, according to Douglas. It means there’s no one type of workout that is better for your mental health than another. This is why exercise in general is essential to improving mental health.

Reduces stress

One of the reasons exercise has become part of the corporate wellness industry is because it improves employee performance. This is being backed up with research, with Maryville University detailing how psychologists are finding correlations between employee behavior and business objectives. Endorphins can explain this change in behavior. These feel-good hormones act as natural painkillers. They also regulate how employees deal with stress. It means you’re less likely to buckle under pressure-filled situations and you have a better chance of coming up with logical solutions. QZ reports that this has led to a rise in wellness programs within companies, which allow employees to sleep and exercise on the clock.

Builds confidence

Better self-confidence is also an important mental development. Given that exercise can help people change their appearance, it is a great way to improve self-esteem. It also instills the feeling of control and makes you feel like you can do anything that you set your mind to, which makes exercise crucial to achieving happiness and success.

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By Alexa Quinn