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7 Ways You Don’t Realize Exercise Is Improving Your Life

7 Ways You Don’t Realize Exercise Is Improving Your Life

Having an active lifestyle with time dedicated to exercise does more for you than just build muscle. Running day in high school gym class may have been met with moans and groans, but there was a point to it that we most likely didn’t care about. Just an hour of exercise everyday improves the quality of our day-to-day lives immensely as well as the longevity and the enjoyment we get out of it. Find a way to incorporate exercise into your life whether it’s going to the gym everyday or something more unique like joining a dodge ball league. Regardless of what you choose, here are 7 ways exercise improves our lives:

1. Reduces Anxiety

Exercising is a natural alternative to relieving anxiety. Rather than taking anti-anxiety medication, scientists from Princeton University have found that a short workout or a walk may be just as beneficial in getting rid of anxiety. Even if it’s just a 30-minute workout, scientists have found that people with anxiety feel better long after working out. Feeling anxious? Go outside and go for an intense run — even if it’s just down the block — to get rid of the anxiety.

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2. Boosts Your Sex Drive

Exercising has been proven to improve the sex drive for both men and women. How? Well for one, exercising releases endorphins which make you feel ‘good’. Second, exercising increases blood circulation throughout your body and that of course, includes your sexual organs and thus making it easier for women to have an orgasm. This can create the feeling of being desired and undoubtedly get you in the mood for for some hanky panky given the right circumstances. The next time you’re off to the gym, take your partner with you. Working out together can be just the right boost.

3. Strengthens Your Immune System

Working out regularly helps strengthen the fighting power of your immune system in a few different ways. Because your body heats up during a workout, it reacts to bacteria similarly as it would a fever according to a study published by LifePrint. The study explains that as your body’s temperature rises it prevents and reduces bacterial growth. Constantly working out creates a natural fight against bacterias and viruses that can result in the flu for example. Sweating also boosts your immune system by removing bacteria from your body.

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4. Makes Your Brain Stronger

If you haven’t been thinking clearly lately, the trick may be to make a stop at the gym for an hour. As you workout your muscles, your brain also strengthens improving the brain’s functionality. The New York Times interviewed scientists who found that when you work out, new mitochondria is produced within your brain cells and the more mitochondria you produce the more likely it is that you can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological disorders. Your brain cells become re-energized, which, like the rest of your body, can handle much more when feeling strong.

5. Increases Your Confidence in Your Body’s Image

With regular exercise you will see an improvement in the way you see your body. We tend to be our own biggest critics. If there are things we don’t like about our bodies, we’re the first to be hard on ourselves and if there are things we do like about it we should embrace it. Regardless of what you look like the most important thing is that you feel strong and healthy. When you exercise, you’ll not only see your confidence and self esteem go up, but you’ll start to see your body change as it becomes stronger, energized and less prone to fatigue.

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6. Consistent Sleep Patterns

Taking the time to exercise during the day can actually help you get a better night’s sleep. Seven hours is the golden number for how many hours of sleep you should get, but if you have had insomnia or are constantly waking up in the middle of the night, an hour of exercise in the afternoon may be your cure. One reason many people are not able to have a full night’s sleep is because they feel anxious before going to bed so they may end up tossing and turning throughout the night. Anxiety for many people can be relieved just by exercising, so if you tend to feel anxious or stressed out in the evening take the time to work it off during the day by going for a jog or walk. When you feel rested in the morning, you will have much more energy to go out and accomplish anything on your list.

7. Makes You Happy

Exercising releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Endorphins are not the only chemicals your body releases when you workout. In an article by Self, scientists examine how exercise is one of the best cures for depression because your brain produces higher levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine as your heart rate goes up and those work as natural anti-depressants. While those three work as an antidepressant, endorphins work as a feel-good cure which can last for up to 12 hours after a half-hour run. If you’ve been in a bad mood all day or feel upset, go for a run, punch those punching bags and see how great you’ll feel after!

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Featured photo credit: Susan Aksu Movsesian via flickr.com

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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