Psychological Benefits of Exercise

1746 Words Dec 27th, 2006 7 Pages
Intro:
Physical activity, in its many forms, has been shown to have many positive affects on the body and mind. The many benefits include: 1) helping to stimulate the mind, 2) increasing feelings of well being, 3) reducing cholesterol, 4) helping to regulate blood pressure, 5) reducing feelings of anxiety, 6) improving quality of life, 7) reducing symptoms of Alzheimer's and Rheumatoid Arthritis, and 8) reducing levels of visceral fat which lowers the risk of developing type II diabetes.
Many of the benefits of exercise will be discussed in the following pages as discovered in peer reviewed research studies. This paper will concentrate on the affect of exercise on the human mind and exactly how exercise helps to stimulate the brain and
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A research study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that exercise may help improve the mood of people who are clinically depressed. (2) Many people who are depressed have low levels of serotonin and exercise can help boost these levels. This is the basic premise from which the pharmaceutical companies have based the majority of anti-depression medication research. Low serotonin levels equals depression. Increased serotonin levels equals increased well-being.
What is Serotonin? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which means it's a brain chemical responsible for carrying messages between cells, messages that enable us to think, to move, to perceive – to live. Under normal circumstances, a tiny 10mg circulate in the body. Yet if this amount drops, or the serotonin malfunctions, the effect can be profound. The body's organs and cells are in constant communication with each other. Special chemical couriers transport these messages, including hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin. These messengers pass signals from one cell to another by interacting with special gate-keeper molecules known as receptors. Each messenger molecule is able to unlock and activate only one specific receptor type. Serotonin, however, has the power to unlock at least 14 different receptors. (1) Once the messenger has gained entry to the right receptor, that receptor triggers a series of responses within
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