Everyone knows that exercise, such as Martial Arts is good for your body but do you know just how important it is for your mind? Exercise has been credited with being a possibly cure for many ailments, such as depression, memory loss and Parkinson’s. So here is a brief explanation of what happens in your brain when you work out…
How Martial Arts Train the Brain
Exercise is technically a source of stress. I know I feel this when pushing myself to finish that last kata or run that last mile. Just like any moment of stress, your heart pressure increases and your brain thinks you are fighting or fleeing. As a result, your brain releases the protein BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor) to protect you. BDNF actually repairs and encourages new growth of your neurons and synapses, resulting in improved long-term memory.
Other cool stuff is happening in your brain when you exercise, such as the release of endorphins. As most know, endorphins help minimize pain and can lead to a feeling of euphoria. In fact, endorphins have a similar effect on you as morphine does! Serotonin and dopamine are other chemicals in your brain responsible for making you feel good. These neurotransmitters are produced by cardio exercise and can decrease depression and anger, improve mood and long-term memory.
So if exercise alone can make you happier and decrease your chance of depression and dementia, then why is there such a mental health epidemic in the US? The answer is bewildering; because many people aren’t exercising and what’s worse, many opt for dangerous medications instead! Although these medications supposedly improve serotonin and dopamine levels, they come with a plethora of side effects such as weight gain, fatigue, grogginess and suicidal ideation. I don’t know about you, but it seems counterproductive to me to treat depression with a medication that can make you fat, lazy and suicidal!
Why You Should Start Exercising Today
So, it’s time to get a healthy mind! Your brain controls your body; it’s your power source so it makes sense that a healthy brain creates a healthy body. Resist the temptation to pop a pill when times get tough and challenge yourself to take the healthy route. There may be some side-effects, such as weight loss, improved muscle mass and euphoria. There are also a lot of options when it comes to exercise and many train both the body and mind, such as martial arts. Martial arts emphasizes the synergy between physical and mental power and I am convinced that if you give it a try, your brain will be happy you did!