New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Exercise Improves Brain Function and Prevents Illness

It is a well-known fact that exercise is good for you. But new studies have shown that exercise not only decreases weight, it also improves brain function and can prevent illnesses such as heart disease and some cancers. It is commonly thought that exercise must be a time consuming, intense workout, but recent studies have shown that regular exercise at a moderate level is just as effective.

According to an article published in the U.S. News and World report, “jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30 minutes can be an instant way of blowing off tension by boosting levels of’soothing’ brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine” (Kotz, 2010). These natural chemicals in our brain promote those happy emotions and a euphoric-like state we all want and crave.

A recent study by the Center for Disease Control found that “one in ten Americans are depressed.” Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco found that “stressed out women who exercised vigorously for 45 minutes over a three day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed out and not active” (Kotz, 2010).

Stress can take over the mind and body and lead to damaging effects on the organs that can lead to more severe illness such as cancer. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that “exercise naturally decreases levels of inflammation, reduces stress and helps you maintain a healthy weight, it changes your body chemistry, creating a less hospitable environment for abnormalities like cancer to grow. In fact, being active during your lifetime reduces your risk of breast cancer by about 23 percent” (St. Lifer, 2011).

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that, “heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States.” The upside of this statistic is that many of the risk factors named, such as heart disease, we can do something about. Exercise decreases the risk of heart disease. Thirty minutes of activity a day can reduce high cholesterol levels, build-up of fat in the arteries, and improve blood flow throughout the body.

The beauty of exercise is it can be done at the gym, outside or in the comfort of your own home. It does not take much to improve your mind and body function. So, lace up those sneakers and get ready to feel the positive effects of exercise.