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Exercise Changes the Brain for the Better

By Sandy Schroeder

Most of us believe in the power of exercise as we walk, run or bike, but UC Berkeley researchers say there is a lot more to the story. We should expect some more surprising results.

The scientists at The Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley say "Moving your body is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your mind."  They say people are happier and more grounded when they move more.

Looking closer, exercise turns out to be good for the spirit and the soul, and a guaranteed stress reliever.

The choice is up to you. Bike, swim, dance, run, walk, go to the gym or join a dance class. As long as you are moving the brain will benefit, according to the scientists. Here is what happens.

The ability to feel joy grows - The brain's reward center gets recharged and opens up to more positive feelings. This works for all sorts of people. Scientists  believe exercise can help individuals who are dealing with substance abuse. They are often depressed, angry and unable to connect with others, but exercise coupled with therapy can help them turn things around. Exercise can also work for depressed seniors. Walks, swims or stationary biking can lift their spirits and motivate them to do more.

Our connections work better - That all encompassing feeling of peace that follows a great run can also help us reach out and connect with others. Then all sorts of good things can happen.

  • Spouses who exercise together stay closer
  • Kids who were feuding settle down
  • Cranky family members calm down and blend in
  • Stressed co-workers let go of their tensions
  • People who are anxious let go of their worries

The researchers found exercise improves the neural connections in the brain working to calm anxiety and reduce the urge to lash out or flee.

Think about the times that you have exercised the most and what it did for you. For me, it calmed the rest of my world and lifted my spirit. Instead of waking up worried, I woke up expecting good things. If that sounds about right, move whenever and wherever you can to make the most of your world.

  • Start hiking on the weekends
  • Walk every morning or in the evening
  • Use quick runs to burn off tension
  • Take stretch breaks every hour that you work
  • Consider trying yoga or tai chi
  • Help your children learn a new sport
  • Look for new bike paths for weekend outings
  • Keep loose weights and exercise mats in the family room
  • Try a nature walk or a wilderness hike
  • Sign up for a dance class
  • Learn a new sport with your children

Whatever else you do today, make sure you are out there moving. Enjoy!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Atlanta, Ga.

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