How Workouts Give Your Brain A Boost And Help TBI Recovery

What benefits the body benefits the brain,” says Dianna Purvis Jaffin, PhD, director of strategy and program at the Center for Brain Health’s Brain Performance Institute. “You are not a separate brain walking around on top of a body.” – Exercise revs up complex processes inside your mind that can curb depression, help you keep your cool at work, and even one day give Betty White a run for her money. Here are three brain benefits of exercise, plus a look at the science behind them from the inside out. – Inside your head, there are about 86 billion neurons designed to bark orders to the rest of your body — all with the help of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters regulate everything from your mood and sleep cycle, to memory and appetite. – What’s it to you? Studies show that low levels of two of these neurotransmitters in particular, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), can lead to mood disorders such as depression. The good news: moderate exercise can increase these levels, according to a recent study in The Journal of Neuroscience. The result, whether you suffer from depression or not, is an increased resilience and capacity to respond to mental challenges, a concept known as “mental fitness,” explains study author Richard Maddock, MD, a research professor at UC Davis Medical Center. – If you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed by the stressors in your life, you might want to step up your fitness routine. Why? When you’re stressed out your brain secretes the “fight or flight” stress hormone cortisol. This is good if you’re about to get mugged on the street, but if your cortisol levels are chronically elevated, it can cause problems, says Jaffin. (Studies have linked high cortisol levels to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss and more.) – It’s never too early to think about having a healthy brain as you age, and exercise can help by increasing your cognitive reserve. Translation: Your brain will be able to handle the deterioration that comes with age without taking its toll on your memory, says Jaffin. (CNN.com/health)