It doesn’t take long to feel the positive effects of exercise, new research has revealed, showing that doing just one workout has a huge impact on your brain, improving function, enhancing mood and decreasing stress.
The meta-analysis published in Brain Plasticity, researchers summarised an impressively large and growing body of work examining the three main changes that occur after exercise: cognitive and behavioural, neurophysiological and neurochemical.
They found three consistent observations in the studies:
- In terms of behavioural and cognitive changes, a single bout of exercise improved executive function (getting things done), enhanced mood and decreased stress levels.
- Large areas of the brain and brain systems are activated after exercise in response to neurophysiological and neurochemical changes.
- One of the biggest questions in these studies is the relationship between chemical changes shown in rodents and behavioural changes shown in humans — basically, why do the chemicals released during exercise make our brains do what they do.
And the changes don’t stop after just one workout — if the impact of exercising is so profound, imagine what a training schedule can do for your mind and body.
“The studies presented in this review clearly demonstrate that acute exercise has profound effects on brain chemistry and physiology,” explain co-author Julia C Basso, PhD, post-doctoral research fellow, Center for Neural Science at New York University.
So if you were thinking about ditching that gym session today, think again.