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The link between aerobic physical exercise and brain health is strong. Studies indicate that a regular aerobic exercise routine benefits memory, psychomotor speed, reaction time, creative thinking, multitasking, academic performance, and has the ability to ward off neurodegenerative disorders. These benefits are believed to be achieved through increases in neurogenesis, neural plasticity, neural transmission, as well as a reduction in central nervous system (CNS) inflammation and increased oxygen consumption by the brain.
Getting exercise first thing in the morning significantly increases blood flow to the brain immediately and throughout the day. Check out this imaging from the University of Illinois showing blood flow pre and post exercise.
Biochemical processes trigger mood enhancement usually within five minutes after moderate to vigorous exercise and the benefits extend long term. Researchers suspect exercise boosts mood and can alleviate chronic depression by regulating neurotransmitters and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This phenomenon supports the survival of existing neurons and encourages the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. BDNF is active in the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain – all areas vital to learning, memory, and higher thinking.
Exercise increases feelings of self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy is defined as a belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. If you can boost self-efficacy, you can start your day off right with a victory. Getting exercise early in the morning makes you feel good about yourself and gives you the first small victory of the day, leading to a more optimistic outlook on the rest of your day.