The surprising effect of physical exercise on the mind: 10 scientific studies

The surprising effect of physical exercise on the mind: 10 scientific studiesWe talked here about 10 scientific studies that showed how much exercise can be beneficial to our health and psychological well-being. However, the topic is very large and 10 points do not seem sufficient even to briefly address the subject. So here are another 10 scientific studies that reveal further wonderful effects that exercise has on our psyche.

  1. Exercise reduces the risk of silent brain stroke

Silent brain stroke is a type of cerebral infarction that affects the person in an almost silent manner. It is often mistaken for a banal headache and is diagnosed usually at a later time; however, it impairs cognitive functions, and according to some, increases the risk of developing dementia. It affects about 10% of the elderly population. The good news is that, according to research, exercise can reduce the possibility of silent cerebal strokes by about 40%. The exercise in question must be something more than the simple stroll; to make sure of the protective effect, better to opt for jogging, cycling, tennis or swimming (Willey et al., 2011).

  1. Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer is the most common form of degenerative dementia with onset in presenyl/senile age. Neurons and synapses deteriorate, resulting in memory loss, language difficulties, sudden mood changes and behavioural problems. Little by little, basic mental abilities are lost.

Fortunately, research shows that exercise may provide a protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease,

Fortunately, research shows that exercise may provide a protective effect against Alzheimer's disease,helping to fight the damage to the brain  3. Exercise increases school performance in children and young people. According to the research, children who have a better physical form and usually practice movement also have a better school performance (Tomporowski et al., 2011). Interestingly, a 2012 study has also shown that the increase of the mental abilities of the kids who performed regularly physical activity makes them more confident and careful in crossing the road when distracted by their mobile phones .

  1. Exercise stimulates the growth of brain cells

One of the reasons why exercise is so useful in different psychological areas is that it helps new brain cells grow.  For example, one study on mice showed how, in response to physical exercise, the neurons of the brain areas related to memory and learning (specifically in the hippocampus) proliferate (Bjørnebekk, 2007).

Exercise improves executive functions

The executive functions in psychology refer to those higher functions of the mind that are responsible for planning, monitoring, managing and verifying behavior. A 2012 review collected the results of many studies on this subject, confirming that exercise significantly increases executive functions, especially in older age (Guiney & Machado, 2012).

  1. Exercise improves sleep quality

The relationship between exercise and sleep is more complicated than we can imagine. In fact, it is not exactly correct that, since exercise is tired, it promotes sleep. Consistent with this, a study of sleepless subjects showed that 45 minutes of exercise did not lead people to sleep better at night.

However, research has found that exercise can help the quality of long-term sleep.

The participants suffering from insomnia who had carried out their exercise programme for 16 weeks, in fact, slept much better than those that were not exercised (Baron et al., 2013).

  1. Exercise can help those suffering from migraines

People with migraines can often be afraid to exercise, because this could lead to an attack. Yet, a 2011 study showed that exercise is an effective way to reduce the occurrence of new episodes (Varkey et al., 2011). In particular, the sample subjects who took part in a three-week training program with a bike showed similar improvements to those that can be obtained with pharmacological treatments.

However, research has found that exercise can help the quality of long-term sleep.

8. Exercise helps quit smoking

Exercise can help you quit smoking. In general, it seems that practice leads to less “attractive ” cigarettes (Van Rebsburg et al., 2009).  Moreover, according to 12 independent studies reviewed by Taylor et al (2008), people who engage in walking and other types of sporting activities also have fewer symptoms of stress and abstinence when they finally decide to give up smoking cigarettes.

  1. Exercise reduces excessive food consumption

People usually think exercise leads to hunger, to “replace” calorie loss. Yet, Hanlol’s and colleagues ‘ research shows that, after exercise, people had less motivation to eat (Hanlon et al., 2012). Exercise can reduce appetite by lowering the body levels of grelin, a hormone produced by some cells of the stomach and pancreas that stimulates appetite (Broom et al, 2008).

  1. Exercise gives impulse to self-control

A meta-analysis of 24 independent studies on the effects of exercise on self-control has concluded that a short training session provides an immediate boost to self-control (Verburgh et al., 2013). In particular, these studies suggest an acute effect of exercise, with a greater ability shown to target and inhibit any stimuli interfering. On the contrary, no cumulative effects were found in the case of routine operations.



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