Brief Insights on the Power of Exercise

-Dr. Brian Hollett 

We are all aware that exercise has profound effects on our physical bodies, yet we seldom consider the many ancillary benefits that a great workout provides. In addition to improving our physical well-being, exercise has a powerful influence on mood, cognition, neurochemistry, and aging. In-depth medical research studies have established that after exercising we become, in essence, cognitively ‘supercharged.’ Some major post-exercise boosters include:

·         Heightened ability to handle tough problems (2-3 hours)

·         Superior focus due to increases in dopamine (2-3 hours)

·         Improved mood due to increases in serotonin (2-3 hours)

·         Diminished pain (and a natural high) due to release of endogenous opioids 500x more potent than morphine (30-60 minutes)

·         Enhanced mood (24 hours)

·         Increased memory and retention (48 hours)

       If these benefits weren’t enough, then perhaps the cumulative effect of exercise over time might inspire you to keep up with your workout routine. A recent NIH-funded study found that lifelong-exercisers in their 70’s were able to perform at levels similar to active 20-year-olds in cardiovascular fitness tests. Muscle biopsy samples of these septuagenarians were also indistinguishable in terms of blood flow and aerobic enzymatic activity from those of counterparts nearly a half-century younger. This is a big deal. In short, these data suggest that the metabolic health of muscle can be almost fully maintained with lifelong aerobic exercise.

Exercise truly is a miracle drug. In addition to setting off a chain reaction of unparalleled neurocognitive benefits, it is, by far, the best anti-aging medication in existence for cardiac and muscular health.          

Youth may be fleeting, but heath can be maintained for a lifetime. Be consistent. Do the work. Make daily movement a habit for life!