3 Positive Effects of Exercise on the Nervous System

You’ve heard time and time again how essential exercise is to virtually all areas of your life. Maybe regular exercise isn’t a part of your life because you are someone who isn’t too concerned with your appearance or how strong or lean your muscles are, and that’s okay.

Still, there are countless other reasons to start exercising, many of which you cannot see on the surface. Many of these positive effects occur in your nervous system, which controls all activities within the human body through messages between the body and brain. Here are three of these positive effects:

Exercise Increases Blood Flow to the Brain & Body

You might be thinking, this sounds important and all, but how exactly does it benefit me? And there is a multi-part answer to this. 

The first way that exercise increases blood flow is by helping regulate your body’s temperature. When you exercise, you create heat. To help you maintain a constant core temperature, your nervous system sends messages for your blood vessels to expand, which increases blood flow to your skin and improves your circulation.

Exercise increases blood flow by helping regulate your body’s temperature.

Exercise increases blood flow by helping regulate your body’s temperature.

This increased circulation and blood flow positively impact your heart, raising oxygen levels in your body and reducing your risk of heart diseases by lowering your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. The brain also benefits from this increase in blood flow. As it receives more nutrients and oxygen, it is also exposed to proteins that help keep your neurons healthy and promote the growth of new ones. Your neurons carry information throughout your body to coordinate all your necessary functions.

Exercise Improves Your Mood & Reduces Stress

Regular physical exercise promotes many functions and physiological changes for aiding symptoms of depression, reducing stress and anxiety levels, and improving your overall mood. 

Regular exercise improves your mood and reduces stress.

Regular exercise improves your mood and reduces stress.

Physical activity releases chemicals in the brain like dopamine, endorphins, and adrenaline which energize the body and calm the mind. After a workout, you experience an immediate increase in endorphins, tiny neurochemicals that play a big role in lowering your stress and anxiety levels. As exercise works to increase these chemicals, it reduces the stress hormone cortisol at the same time. This nervous system function helps bring your body chemicals into balance or homeostasis, leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed.

Exercise Promotes Cognitive Function

Exercise reinforces your ability to memorize, think, learn, judge, and make decisions in direct and indirect ways. Exercise improves your cognitive function directly by reducing your inflammation and insulin resistance while promoting the growth of new blood vessels and cells in your brain. Exercise also encourages the release of proteins and other chemicals in your body that improve your brain functioning. 

When you experience issues with sleep, stress, or mental health problems like anxiety and depression, it impairs your cognitive function. But because exercise improves all of these areas, it indirectly enhances your mental abilities. Some studies show a greater volume in the prefrontal and medial temporal cortex in the brains of people who regularly exercise than those who don’t. These parts of the brain are responsible for memory and thinking.

So what’s the takeaway of all this? That’s something you’ll have to see for yourself. While all these benefits may not be readily seen, they can be readily experienced, which means there is no time like the present to get moving.

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