5 Reasons Why Fitness Is Crucial For Mental Strength
While there are ways to develop mental strength in isolation, interestingly, however, mental strength is a direct function of fitness.
Negative events, crises, and stressful situations are an undeniable reality of human existence. However, humans possess an often understated weapon in their armory which can be readily deployed in such situations - mental strength.
Generally speaking, this is a measure of one’s psychological resilience. Imagine a robbery taking place at your house at night or imagine being fired from your workplace – how efficiently you deal with such crises is intrinsically related to your mental strength.
So, how does one develop it? While there are ways to develop mental strength in isolation, interestingly, however, mental strength is a direct function of fitness. This article will explore 5 all-revealing reasons why fitness, through exercise and nutrition is crucial for mental strength.
1. Release of Amino-Acids:
Any physically intense activity (think of a gym work out) stimulates our muscle fibres. This leads to the body’s innate intelligence deploying amino acids (building blocks of life) to the muscles for protein synthesis. However, one amino acid called Trytophan is not required for muscle recovery, but as raw material for the brain. Incidentally, when other amino acids travel to the muscles, Tryptophan finally finds space to sprint to the brain by crossing the blood brain barrier. The brain then uses Tryptophan to produce a neurotransmitter called Serotonin, which we all know as the happy hormone. Serotonin helps one develop a sense of well-being, confidence and positivity which directly and positive impacts our mental strength.
2. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) & Neurogenesis:
Exercise leads to production of BDNF and increased brain neurogenesis. BDNF is a protein produced in the brain and the spinal-chord which is responsible for maintenance of brain cells, creating new neural pathways, keeping brain cells healthy etc. Neurogenesis allows your brain to regenerate new and younger cells, thus allowing you to be mentally sharp. These biological processes have a hugely beneficial impact on mental strength.
What does not kill you makes you stronger - this is hormesis at its most basic. Think of what happens when you take an ice bath or a perform a high intensity work out or lift a one-rep max weight. Such stress-inducing events trigger primal survival and longevity genes in our bodies that cause our brains cells to adapt to such stressors by way of improving neural cell metabolism, gene expression, and many other aspects. This is what conditions our brain to be comfortable in being uncomfortable which ultimately leads to increased mental strength.
4. Insulin Sensitivity and Exercise:
Science has proved that regular exercise results in cells becoming insulin sensitive (relax – this is a good thing!). When cells are insulin sensitive, insulin can distribute glucose in these cells efficiently, and conversely, these cells absorb glucose optimally, which results in increased cellular energy in the brain. Fun fact - our brain is just about 2% of our body weight but consumes roughly 20% of our energy! Your fitness regimen will allow the brain to be fed as nature wanted, which in turn will lead to better decision-making abilities, performing difficult tasks, exercising increased will power and voila – mental strength!
These are the chemical messengers of our brain which regulate emotions. Feelings of inspiration, motivation, sadness, and happiness - all of these and more can be attributed to neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are produced primarily in the brain and the gut based on the intake of amino and fatty acids from food. If you consume the complete range of amino and fatty acids through correct nutrition, it will allow for optimum concentration of neurotransmitters through which you can experience an immediate and positive shift in mental strength. On the contrary, a diet primarily based on sugar/carbs and processed foods may deprive you of essential neurotransmitters and leave you feeling low and unfulfilled.
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