The Secret to Being Really Smart

Exercise is the secret ingredient. You only ever uplift from your position of connection and strength.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

DID YOU KNOW WE ARE LITERALLY KILLING OURSELVES? In our always-on, screen driven lives, we have forgotten that we are essentially natural born movers. What’s even more scary, and what doesn’t get much airtime by the way, is that whilst we sit comfy on our couches bingeing Netflix, these behaviours are killing our brains too — literally shrivelling them up.

The mind-body connection has fascinated me for years and is a belief that I place at the very centre of my own wellbeing, so allow me to connect the two for you. It could seriously revamp your life.

We all know exercise is good for us and makes us feel good. Really good. Though most of us have no idea why. We assume it’s because we get an endorphin high or we’re burning off stress. But the real reason we feel so good when we move our bodies, is because the chemical cirque de soleil going on inside us, spectacularly optimises our brain function which, in my opinion is the most schamazing— and spellbinding benefit of exercise. Way more impressive than what it does for your body.

For our brains to be at peak performance, our bodies need to work hard. That’s a scientific fact.

Inspiring Science Connecting Exercise and the Brain

Did you know that high levels of stress chip away at the connections between the billions of nerve cells in your brain and depression can even shrink certain parts of the brain. What you probably also don’t know, is that exercise reverses this process by unleashing a waterfall of neurochemicals that quite literally, physically strengthen the brain’s infrastructure.

Exercise does this by increasing levels of serotoninnorepinephrine, and dopamine — chief neurotransmitters that work together and with other proteins in the brain, to traffic your thoughts and emotions.

SEROTONIN is widely known as being one of the brain’s ‘happy chemicals’, because it appears to be able to influence your mood. It’s complex and multifaceted impacting your cognition, reward, learning, memory and numerous physiological processes.

NOREPINEPHRINE often amplifies signals that influence your arousal, motivation and perception. It enhances your memory formation and retrieval, plus it dramatically focuses your attention.

DOPAMINE is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. The brain releases it when you eat food or drink that you crave, or while you have sex, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system. This important neurochemical boosts your mood, motivation, attention and helps regulate your movement, learning, and emotional responses.

BDNF aka The Big Gun (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is a crucial biological link between thought, emotions, and movement and it’s also a key ingredient for making new cells and is unleashed when we get our blood pumping and do exercise.

IGF-1 and VEGF Moving our muscles produces these proteinsthat travel through the bloodstream and into the brain, where they play a key role in your highest thought processes.

Exercise is a lifestyle strategy that is without a doubt, a game changer because it positively impacts the way you think, act and feel.

Knowing exercise does this can literally improve millions of peoples’ lives, including yours.

Why Should You Care How Your Brain Works?

For one thing, it’s running the show.

Be in no doubt about that.

Your life can seriously upgrade when you understand that there’s a biological basis for various emotional issues such as anxiety, stress and depression and that you can actually do something about it, pretty quickly and easily.

Seriously if exercise came in pill form, it would be THE bestseller drug and be front page news forever

As we get older, production of growth factors and BDNF start to slow down, bringing down neurogenesis (the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain). Even before then, a drop in these can show up in your life as increased stress or depression. But if you exercise daily then it means you have some control over the situation and best of all you can do something about it.

I recommend you get moving regularly and with some intensity, even if it feels hard at first.

Micro-Workouts Get My Brain To Peak Performance

I try working where I can easily do Micro-Workouts when I need a pick me up, focus, get creative, or do something that is gonna tax my brain. Heck for me that can also include public speaking and being in front of a camera.

It’s also why I always try and fit in some form of exercise in the morning before I start working, even if that’s a ten minute dance off with my son to get my heart pumping.

My mind definitely operates better and I get more sh*t done. I’m way more focussed, less distracted and my brain feels sharper. The end result is I get more done and the quality of my work feels a cut above, which helps me like I’ve accomplished something.

After exercise I am definitely less stressed and anxious.I feel good about myself and isn’t that what you want? Feeling good impacts everything in your life, not just work, but relationships, what you eat, drink, how you feel and act. Operating at peak performance helps you feel happy.

Exercise makes me feel like I’ve rebooted my brain.

Find 3 ‘Micro-Workouts’ You Can Do Daily for 30 Days

I suggest you pick one to three Micro-Workouts you can start TODAY and commit to doing each Micro-Workout 8-10 minutes daily, for 30 days. Ideally you’d do all three which means you’ve done 25–30 minutes of exercise in total each day. Anything from dancing, to sprinting on the spot, to doing simple planks and jumping jacks.

Or just do Squats, you can never go wrong with squats!

I also recommend you up the level of intensity every week and challenge yourself regularly. You could add weights, go harder or do 15 minutes instead of 10. See where it gets you.

Also notice any improvements in your mood, self-esteem (which always elevates when we keep our commitments to ourselves) and how much better your brain functions overall.

When you move your body and get in shape, your mind will always follow.

The most important thing is to do something. And to start.

This probably sounds obvious, but if you haven’t gotten off your couch for a while — especially if you’ve been feeling anxious, got the Covid blues or you’ve simply exercised your lazy gene for far too long — then taking that first step may seem real hard. Impossible even. TBH I’ve found it quite hard recently as the weather has turned. Most of the time I’d much rather curl up on the sofa with my soft blankie and keep cosy. I get it. But I always feel just way way more happier when I do the exercise and I can say for sure my self-esteem skyrockets. Its worth grunting through it just for that.

You can do it. You know you can.

The key is to blitz the business of starting as a challenge in itself. Heck I think the best way to begin is to DANCE. Put on some tunes, turn up the volume and move your body with abandon. No one needs to watch.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    Sharon Holand Gelfand of SHG Consulting: “Our belief systems”

    by Candice Georgiadis

    Ange Alex: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing

    by Ben Ari
    Choosing to eat healthy vs less healthy foods

    When you feel conflicted over food choices

    by Clair MacKenzie
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.