What Running Does For Your Brain

When the weather is hot, exercising outside is definitely not recommended, but during the cooler weather in Henderson, Nevada, running can be a great supplement to your workout program. Not only does it provide a lot of benefits for the body, it also provides benefits for the brain. There are many advantages to any exercise for the body and brain, which includes a program of running.

You’ll burn off the hormones of stress.

Exercise burns off the hormones of stress, like adrenaline and cortisol. Those hormones are created when you’re under pressure and the fight or flight response goes into effect. When you’re running, you’re doing exactly what the hormones help prepare your body to do, take flight. At the same time, it stimulates the production of chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins, which make you feel good. They’re the body’s natural pain killer.

Exercise increases brain receptors.

The hypothalamus, which controls functions like appetite, blood pressure, temperature and memory is stimulated by exercise. New connections are made in the brain. One study of brains of competitive distance runners showed more connectivity in neural areas that were responsible for memory and self control than there were of non-runners. It’s thought that this occurs because of better aerobic fitness and the mental demands of running.

Tests show that running improves cognitive flexibility.

An article in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning research by Thomas Venckunas and colleagues compare the ability to switch from task to task of young sailors in a program devoted to finding the effects of sprinting on the brain. The study used sprinting three times a week to one group of young sailors and compared them to another group who didn’t run. The sprinting group alternated between running fast and recovery for 45 minutes to 90 minutes three times a week. Both groups were tested before and after seven weeks. The group that sprinted scored better at adapting to rapid switches on a keyboard than they did before starting sprinting and their counterparts who didn’t run scored worse both times.

  • Running is good for you, but endurance running may shrink the brain. One study of a group that ran over 3,000 miles in 64 days showed gray matter shrink, which was similar to aging. It was, however, temporary and the shrinkage was limited to excessive running.
  • Running helps quiet the mind and studies using electroencephalography proved it. A small study of the brain of 11 runners were monitored for electrical activity during an ultramarathon showed a decreased flow associated with relaxation.
  • Animal studies showed an increase in the growth of new neurons. It’s believed to be caused by the release of BDNF—brain derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates cell growth and occurred more in long distance runners.
  • Another study compared the ability to learn after 40 minutes of running, resting and two intense sprints for three-minutes. Learning was 20 percent faster after sprinting.

For more information, contact us today at Aguirre Fitness Las Vegas

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