Have been there, marathons is not for sissies, so take care and do enough training, be prepared but most of all listen to your body during training. Nevertheless keep in mind that exercise and running are good for your physical and mental health.
Pushing yourself through a marathon isn’t good for your heart, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run
The benefits of exercise
- In children, college students and young adults, exercise or physical activity improves learning and intelligence scores
- Moreover, exercise in childhood increases the resilience of the brain in later life resulting in a cognitive reserve
- The decline of memory, cortex and hippocampus atrophy in aging humans can be attenuated by exercise
- Physical activity improves memory and cognition
- Exercise protects against brain damage caused by stroke
- Exercise promotes recovery after brain injury
- Exercise can be an antidepressant
The brain needs certain ingredients to flourish or to life up to the expectations of every day problems. The brain has priority when it comes to certain ingredients. A variety of foods can be beneficial for learning. Positive effects on brain function have been reported for fish oil, teas, fruits, folate, spices, cocoa, chocolate and vitamins.
How does exercise improve the brain?
- With exercise the number of neurons increase in the hippocampus, a brain structure important to memory and learning.
- Also synaptic plasticity increases in a certain part of the hippocampus due to exercise: the dentate gyrus.
- Spine density increases in certain parts of the hippocampus.
- Exercise also increases and improves the small blood vessels throughout the brain.
- Exercise can change the function of neurotransmitters and can activate the monoamine system.
The effects of diet and exercise could be additive and/or synergistic. Exercise as well as caloric restriction can stimulate neurogenesis.The effects of dietary measure on neurogenesis is relatively small compared to exercise. The effects of polyphenolen on angiogenesis or improved vascularisation of the brain is superior to exercise. Overall the evidence for the effects of food on the brain are scarce and is in need of more research. It could be possible that exercise and nutrition can enhance each others actions on the brain.
van Praag, H. (2009). Exercise and the brain: something to chew on Trends in Neurosciences, 32 (5), 283-290 DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2008.12.007
According to a recent review of reviews it is concluded that while awaiting further high quality trial evidence it would seem appropriate for exercise to be recommended in combination with other treatments. This cautious conclusion should be that exercise is more effective than no treatment and that for mild to moderate depression it is efficacious and for severe depression it should be added to other treatments in the treatment program.
Let’s have a look at the evidence. Until the nineties of the previous century research and reviews were mainly based on non-randomized controlled trials unpublished dissertations and observational studies and their results should be interpreted with caution. Until 2006 some additional reviews were published which included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) only. One review involved 11 RCTs and another review mainly focused on the elderly. The first one showed a very large treatment effect in favor of exercise compared to control conditions. In the elderly exercise is efficient in reducing depression or high levels of depressive symptoms. Overall quality of the RCTs improved over time encouraging the optimism about the efficacy of exercise for depression.
Since 2006 four RCTs have examined the effects of exercise on depression.
- Patients with moderate to severe depression on antidepressants were randomized to walking or placebo low intensity stretching and relaxation.
After 10 days, reduction in depression scores in the walking group was significantly larger than in the placebo group. In addition, the proportion of patients with a clinical response was greater for the walking group.
- In a pilot RCT exercise significantly reduced minor depression relative to sertraline in older adults.
- In another study depressed patients were randomized to one of four conditions; supervised exercise in a group setting, home based exercise, standard antidepressant treatment (sertraline) or placebo pill for 16 weeks. At 4-month follow-up patients receiving active treatments tended to have higher
remission rates than the placebo controls.
- In a recent study participants with elevated levels of depression (n = 23) were randomized to low frequency exercise (one aerobic session per week and deemed the comparator), individualized high frequency exercise (3–5 aerobic exercise sessions per week) or group based high frequency exercise interventions. Participants randomized to the high frequency exercise interventions reported lower depression scores than those assigned to the low frequency exercise intervention at 8-week follow-up. This might mean that the exercise and depression relationship may be dose dependent. there was no significant difference in improvement between the group exercise or individual program perhaps suggesting that the additional effects of exercising in a group are not important in the relationship between exercise and depression.
There are several RCTs of the impact of exercise on depression ongoing, in the near future the effects and costs of exercise for depression treatment might be even more clear. Until than I will put my money in favor of exercise as treatment for depression or additional treatment. What do you think?
Daley, A. (2008). Exercise and Depression: A Review of Reviews Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 15 (2), 140-147 DOI: 10.1007/s10880-008-9105-z
Exercise boosts brain power is one of the rules of the book: Brain Rules
John Medina’s Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School pulls off a terrific trick: combining popular science with touching personal memoir and a bunch of practical conclusions for improving work, education and personal life.
Besides the book there is also a DVD the author has put the cool companion DVD online for free as an introduction to the paperback release of the book.
More on the book:
Brain Rules takes the brain’s mysteries apart into twelve pieces: Exercise, survival, wiring, attention, short-term memory, long-term memory, sleep, stress, multisensory perception, vision, gender, and exploration. He discusses the best, most current science describing what drives each one, delving into psychology, neurology, evolutionary biology, and practical disciplines like behavioural economics, organizational science, and pedagogy.
Thanks Boing Boing
Research suggests that up to 97% of women and 68% of men experience food cravings. Chocolate is the most common one of the craved foods, typically high calorie.
A number of situations have been shown to experimentally increase cravings of chocolate consumption. For example,chocolate abstinence, stress and exposure to chocolate cues increase urges to eat chocolate. Studies on the effects of exercise on appetite and eating behaviour have considered satiety and hunger but not cravings for specific food types such as chocolate. No studies have examined the effects of exercise on appetite and food cravings during explicitly manipulated stress, or on cue-elicited cravings for specific foods.
Chocolate eating decreases negative feelings, exercise also attenuates physiological and psychological responses to stressors. It has been shown that exercise can reduce the craving for cigarettes in smoking cessation. Can exercise reduce chocolate craving, and can it also attenuates increases in cravings associated with stress and chocolate cue-elicited urges?
The findings show, for the first time, that a 15 min bout of brisk walking, equivalent to ‘fairly light’ intensity exercise, reduces chocolate cravings, with moderate effect sizes, during and for at least 10 min following exercise cessation.
Moreover, this research confirms previous evidence that has shown exercise to suppress appetite and reduce urges to snack. Feeling tired and the need for an energy boost has been associated with the consumption of high-energy food and sitting on the couch does not appear to reduce chocolate cravings, whereas being physically active does.
Craving for chocolate is a difficult concept consisting of different features. Exercise only reduced an intense desire to eat chocolate and it reduced overeating chocolate when starting to eat chocolate due to the possible lack of control over eating chocolate if eaten. In contrast, exercise did not reduce anticipation of positive reinforcement or of relief from negative symptoms.
Opening and handling the chocolate bar increased chocolate craving and exercise attenuated these responses to some extent. Also there was a small (though non significant) attenuating effect of exercise on urges to eat chocolate in anticipation of relief of negative states. This might be due to the mood enhancing effect of exercise.
Why is this important?
Brief exercise may result in self-regulation of sugar snacking whereas higher intensity or longer bouts of physical activity may lead to compensatory dietary behavior and/or chocolate cravings.
Besides the important contribution to weight management due to the role of exercise in energy expenditure and general appetite suppression it can also reduce craving.
How was this study done?
Following 3 days of chocolate abstinence, 25 regular chocolate eaters, took part, on separate days, in two randomly ordered conditions, in a within-subject design: a 15-min brisk semi-self-paced brisk walk or a passive control. Following each, participants completed two tasks: the Stroop colour–word interference task, and unwrapping and handling a chocolate bar. Chocolate urges, affective activation, affective pleasure/valence, and systolic/diastolic blood pressure (SBP/DBP) were assessed throughout.
Related posts on this blog:
A TAYLOR, A OLIVER (2009). Acute effects of brisk walking on urges to eat chocolate, affect, and responses to a stressor and chocolate cue. An experimental study Appetite, 52 (1), 155-160 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.09.004