If you’ve been following our Emotional Brain Training posts here, you’ll have learned a lot about EBT as a brain-based solution to stress. But, we want to highlight that EBT also incorporates principles of healthy eating, activity, adequate sleep and time for daily rejuvenation.
All these factors play a role in brain health.
Finding ways to move your body goes far beyond calorie burning in EBT. Daily activity, for example, produces a chemical in the brain (BDNF-brain derived neurotropic hormone) that fosters the development of new neural circuits along with rewiring of existing neural circuits. This builds stress resiliency and positive changes in behaviour. BDNF is released during activity but does not stay around in the body for more than 24hrs. This means to maximize BDNF’s benefits (optimizing memory, learning new behaviors and incorporating new habits), it’s key to stay active each and every day.
Activity also activates the reward pathways in the brain which makes us feel motivated, energized, satisfied and happy. Research shows that consistent activity is a valid tool for combating depression
and a key way for the body to off-load stress accumulated during the day. You’ll remember from previous posts that a balanced and rewarded brain is one that fosters ‘adult brain’ decisions—where we can follow through on our goals versus being stuck in patterns of poor choices and immediate gratification.
Did you know? A ten minute walk at lunch will boost your energy and mood for up to 2 hours! And if you walk in the sunshine or with a friend you can accumulate a moment of joy, which further activates your reward pathways.
Based on evolutionary physiology our body is built to move, and feels at its best both physically and mentally when we consistently find ways to interrupt our sedentary lives.