Have you noticed that after doing exercise you feel more relaxed, calmer and happier?

If so, have you ever wondered why?

What happens in the brain when we exercise?

When we exercise thebrain recognizes this as a moment of stress.  As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting an enemy or running away from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF protects and repairs your memory neurons, another thing that happens is that your brain releases endorphins, which also help to minimise any discomfort we might feel during exercise, fight stress and enable you to relax and calm down. The areas of the brain that help you co-ordinate, to move and have more accute senses are being used when you exercise, this means that the brain hasn’t got time for the parts that deal with worry and tension. After exercise, these brain opiates such as endorphins are in full flow and when you stop exercising and are able to relax that is when you can really appreciate the high, the buzzy happy glowing feeling that makes us feel so good.

Does this make you want to go and run around the park yet? Don’t go yet, or call your mates for a game of football? Wait a minute before you go, let me tell you some other interesting stuff.

Scientific study

In a study of nearly 1000 German teenagers it was found that the ones who exercised regularly generally felt better about themselves and were less likely to want to take drugs, alchohol or smoke, they also generally felt happier. The teenagers who didn’t exercise at all, or not much were more likely to get depression or anxiety and to be more awkward in social situations and didn’t have such high self esteem.

The health benefits

when you exercise the blood pumps around your whole body, if you exercise so that your heart is pumping hard, you can really feel that oxygen flowing around your body, this is called aerobic exercise and aerobic excercise brings enough oxygen into the bloodstream to convert to fuel which burns fat. You usually have to be exercising like this for about 20 minutes for it to begin to burn fat and to really have an impact on your general wellbeing.

Filling the body with oxygen regularly is great ,because look at all the good things that oxygen does for us.

When oxygen levels are increased, the red blood cells take the extra oxygen, and give it to our body tissues, this helps all of our internal organs to work better and more oxygen to the skin, which means that the skin will be healthier and so you’ll be less likely to get spots. The oxygen helps waste gases and toxins to be removed more quickly and cells can then function normally, (most viruses, bacteria and fungi are unable to live in an oxygen rich environment). Oxygen builds resistance to infections like yeast (candida albicans) that thrive in an oxygen deficient environment. Oxygen also helps to neutralize the acids in our body, like lactic acid resulting from using muscles a lot . Our body’s internal reactions are energised because of the increased oxygen levels., so we burn fat more efficiently, we feel better, our body is healthier and we can think more clearly.

Here are some more reasons to exercise

Oxygen removes free radicals (these are bad , build up of these can cause diseases like Cancer, heart problems and symptoms of aging).
Reduces tissue swelling
Makes your brain more alert, so it functions better, not just at the time of exercising, but at any time.
Wakes up sleeping (idling) brain cells that are metabolising enough to stay alive but are not actively ‘firing’
Enhances the body’s ability to fight bacterial and viral infections
Helps get rid of yeast over growth (this is common and can cause unpleasant symptoms such as Thrush)
Deactivates toxins and poisons (e.g. side effects from some chemotherapy, spider bites, air pollution, etc.)
Enhances wound healing (stimulates new capillaries into wounds)
Acts as an anti-inflammatory
Helps wounds heal more quickly.
Helps you to keep slim and fit and feel good about your body.

So now hopefully you’re all fired up wanting to get some of these benefits, but what kind of sport will you do?

Get active ,find your thing!

You might already be in the school football, netball or hockey team and if you are and you enjoy it, that’s great, you’ll be getting all the lovely benefits of exercise, to your body, and your happiness. But you might be reading this thinking “I’m just not into team games”, or “ I’m no good at team games”. There is something for everyone, it’s just a matter of finding what suits you. It might be long distance running, swimming, yoga, or some kind of dance, (alot of boys now are taking up Street Dance). Have a think about what kind of sport or activity you might enjoy and if your school doesn’t offer it as a club, then you could suggest that they start one, or perhaps you could look online to see what’s on offer in your local area.
It might be fun to meet up with a friend and go together to a yoga class, dance, or Martial Arts class. Maybe instead of having a friend round at the weekend and playing games together on the computer, you could get a few of you together and have a kick around with a ball in your local park, or choreograph a dance in your bedroom, or garden.
Try something new, have a go. Get fit, feel good and have fun!