“While exercise is attractive in theory, it can often be rather painful in actuality, and the discomfort of exercise is more immediately felt than its benefits” this is from an article titled “The Effects of Exercise on the Brain”, written by a biology student, McGovern, in 2005. He also talks having a routine and the pains & rewards that come from exercising. I think it’s a good follow up to my Fitness 101: Routine blog post with some scientific research behind it!
I suspect the effects of exercise are different on everyone. One of my close friends that I play soccer with, doesn’t actually feel the “runners high” nor does he particularly enjoy that body soreness after an intense work out. Maybe I’m lucky in that sense, I enjoy being a little sore and I feel a bit of high after an intense soccer game. Begs the question…. Do some people get the endorphin release? What’s the difference between me and my friend here? I’ve been reading research papers on exercise and endorphins to get some answers, but most conclusions are vague. From personal experience I agree with one of those papers, which concluded the more you exercise regularly, the more endorphins your body generates; so for same exact work out, someone who is generally more active releases more endorphins… maybe…
When it comes to long-term effects of exercise, particularly effects on the brain, most research conclusions concur. “One of the most exciting changes that exercise causes is neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons. The new neurons are created in the hippocampus, the center of learning and memory in the brain…. At a cellular level, it is possible that the mild stress generated by exercise stimulates an influx of calcium, which activates transcription factors in existing hippocampus neurons. The transcription factors initiate the expression of the BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) gene, creating BDNF proteins that act to promote neurogenesis. There is a limit to the positive effects of neurotrophic factors, however. Mice bred to overexercise actually showed an inability to learn. A possible cause for this inability is the disruption of cognitive function by a preoccupation with exercise”.
To conclude, exercise makes body and brain stronger; however, over-exercising can actually have a negative effect. So just like most things in life, there is a balance curve, and the contributing factors to that curve are different for everyone.
Here is the full article written by McGovern: