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How Exercise Affects Our Brains and Makes Us Happier

For those who already lead active lifestyles, the emotional benefits of regular exercise might come as a no-brainer; it just feels good. But for those who are curious or would like a more technical breakdown of the typical "it releases endorphins" reasoning, Leo Widrich of Fast Company decided to delve deeper into exactly why exercise has such a profound impact on our brains and mood.

Whether you're just going for a light jog or training for a Spartan Death Race, your body perceives this sudden activity as a burst of stress, a 'fight or flight' moment. This causes the brain to release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor).

BDNF has a protective and restorative element to your memory neurons, helping to make you feel at ease and clear-minded after.

This production of BDNF is also accompanied by the release of those euphoria-enducing endorphins, which are done so to minimize the discomfort and pain associated with exercise.

And because the mood enhancing properties of BDNF function similarly to those found in certain drugs, the sense of euphoria is greatest when you're first starting out and diminishes over time, requiring more exercise to achieve a similar feeling.

That being said, it doesn't necessarily follow that more time is absolutely necessary to reap the mood benefits of regular exercise, but that consistency plays an important part above all with one author, Gretchen Reynolds, emphasizing an optimal time period in her book "The First 20 Minutes."

For more on check out the complete article over at Fast Company.


  • Nathan Kan
  • EndorphinsExerciseHappinessMood

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