How Staying Active Improves Your Ability To Focus
Most of us have heard that physical exercise helps reduce the odds of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Regular exercise also helps lower blood pressure and increases your overall well-being. But have you ever heard that staying physically active can help improve your ability to concentrate?
Concentration is our ability to focus on a task. There are two key factors to having good concentration — sustained attention and executive function. Sustained attention is the ability to focus on certain pieces of information for a prolonged period of time. Executive function is our ability to think and make decisions at a complex level.
Research has shown that anaerobic and aerobic exercise can increase brain function, boost your attention span, and contribute to overall mental wellness.
Below we will discuss the hormones that are released while working out and how they can impact your focus. We will also talk about how physical activity helps with one's mental health and might help reduce depressive symptoms. We will wrap up this article with a discussion about how much resistance training or cardiovascular exercise one needs to include in their exercise routine to increase their quality of life and focus better throughout the workday.
Your Brain on Exercise: The Hormones That Working Out Releases
Exercising causes your body to release chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with receptors in a specific part of the brain to help reduce the perception of pain and trigger positive feelings in the body.
After a long run or a workout, many of us feel not only accomplished but happy, contributing to overall brain health. This feeling is often described as euphoric, also known as the “runner’s high.”
The endorphins that are released during physical activity act as sedatives and are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. Theyare then released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Physical activity also triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin, which help improve an individual’s mood. You don’t need high-intensity exercise to reap the mental health benefits of working out; even brisk walking can contribute to a healthy lifestyle and boost your focus and mood.
Dopamine, also referred to as the pleasure chemical, is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for transmitting signals between the nerve cells of the brain. Dopamine plays a significant role in the body and has a direct impact on the central nervous system.
It’s one of the most talked-about effects of exercise, as when it’s released, it can make you feel more focused.
Serotonin, a hormone that stabilizes our mood, is a neurotransmitter that carries messages between nerve cells in your brain and throughout your body telling your body how to work. Serotonin plays several key roles such as influencing learning, memory, and happiness. It also helps regulate body temperature, aids in sleep, and helps with your digestive tract.
Lack of serotonin can play a role in the decline of mental health.
Norepinephrine is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter that increases your heart rate and blood pumping from the heart. Norepinephrine increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels which helps break down fat and provides more energy to the body.
Norepinephrine also sends signals in the brain that deal with your sleep-wake cycle. This helps wake you up, increases your attention, and helps you focus on performing tasks.
What Are the Mental Benefits of Exercise?
There is no secret that there is a mental health crisis here in America and while psychological and pharmacological interventions are available, there are other alternatives when dealing with mental health.
Physical activity is overlooked when it comes to managing one's mental health. Exercising is proven to provide a positive effect on mood and cognitive ability.
Below we will discuss how exercise can help provide support for one’s mental health status.
When exercising, you are boosting your oxygen circulation inside your body. The increase in oxygen helps support the mitochondria’s energy production, allowing your body to function better while using energy more efficiently.
While exercising, your body also gets a boost from the exercise-induced hormone that helps you feel more energized.
Exercising is not just an investment in your overall health. It also plays a vital role in your confidence level. When you exercise regularly and start a routine, you begin to build up your self-worth. You start to feel better about your appearance and while meeting even the smallest goals, you feel accomplished which helps you build your confidence.
Studies have shown that individuals who engage in regular physical activity fall asleep more easily and sleep better overall. It is believed that this is due to the effects exercise has on the central and autonomic nervous system as well as on the endocrine and somatic finish.
This is especially important because lack of sleep can contribute to many mental health issues such as mood disorders, increased stress and pain response, physiological corners, cognitive function, and emotion. Feeling well-rested can also help you better focus on the tasks at hand in order to get more done.
Exercising helps release endorphins that make you feel better. These same endorphins help you concentrate. Exercising stimulates the growth of new brain cells which also helps prevent a decline in your ability to focus, too.
How Much Do You Need To Work Out To See a Difference?
Exercising is not a one-schedule-fits-all type of thing. For some, working out five to six days a week is a must. Others feel that working out two to three times a week is enough based on their fitness goals and time.
It is important to schedule your workout routines around your schedule and fitness goals so that you stick to them. This will also help you see what works best for you in the long run.
A Little Goes a Long Way
It doesn’t take much to see a change in your health and overall appearance when working out. Whether you are working out to lose weight, build muscle, or just improve your overall physical and mental health, a little will go a long way!
Every workout routine is different, based on its length and intensity. But it is important to remember that just doing regular physical activity for 30 minutes most days of the week, will help you get results. Something is better than nothing.
Find a Form of Exercise That You Love
It is important to find a form of exercise you truly enjoy. When you enjoy something, it is more likely you will form a habit out of doing it.
For example, Crossfit is a very popular form of exercise for many athletes because of the structure it brings to your workouts. So whether you work out five to six days a week or just two to three days a week, find a form of exercise you enjoy and stick with it.
The Bottom Line
Moving your body is one of the most beneficial things you could do for your overall mental and physical health. By staying active, you not only improve yourself on a physical level but you improve your ability to focus and help with mental clarity.
If you’re looking for an extra boost of clarity in your life, Haven Athletic Duffels help focus on organization, so you can get the most out of your workout. The Large Duffel will meet all your needs when it comes to being prepared for your workouts, so you’ll never have to worry about losing focus on your exercise routine while you search for your headphones in your bag.
Physical activity is good for your concentration – here's why | The Conversation
The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise | HelpGuide
Does exercise really boost energy levels? | Harvard Health
Exercise and sleep: a systematic review of previous meta-analyses | PMC