A Mind in Motion: The Benefits of Exercise for Mood, Memory, and Neurocognitive Longevity

Date

2023-05

Authors

H'luz, Isaac Alfonso

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Abstract

Current research in the field of exercise neuroscience has shown several neurological and psychological benefits to adopting a regular exercise routine in addition to the plethora of other physical benefits it confers. Exercise has been found to improve mood by decreasing depressive symptoms, increasing feelings of self-esteem and self-efficacy, decreasing the body’s physiological response to stressors, modulating neurotransmitter levels such as serotonin, and increasing the release of endogenous endorphins and endocannabinoids which relieve pain and create positive feelings of euphoria. Additionally, exercise has been shown to increase short-term, long-term, and spatial memory. Proposed mechanisms for these improvements include increased levels of neurotrophic factors that serve to increase neurogenesis, neuroplasticity, long-term potentiation, hippocampal volume, cerebral blood flow, and overall neuron health. Finally, exercise strongly correlates with decreased risk of dementia and a slowed progression of the disease in its early stages. Being active can reduce the deposition of neuron-damaging plaques, increase cerebral blood flow, strengthen and enlarge pertinent brain regions that are targeted by dementia, and increase neurotrophic factors that support neuron health. The numerous beneficial effects of exercise on the brain and the physiological mechanisms behind them are explored.

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Keywords

exercise, mood, learning, memory, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Honors College

Citation

H'Luz, I. A. (2023). A mind in motion: The benefits of exercise for mood, memory, and neurocognitive longevity. Honors College, Texas State University.

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