July 09, 2018
Glenn Stevenson, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and program coordinator for the Neuroscience major, recently appeared as a panelist on Maine Public’s “Maine Calling” radio program to discuss the benefits of exercise on mental health.
For years, scientists and researchers have been extolling the benefits of exercise to our physical well-being. Now they are discovering the positive impacts physical activity has on mental health. Stevenson joined host Jennifer Rooks and two other panelists to discuss ways to get more exercise into your life and how it can help you feel better, both physically and psychologically.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is an important component of a healthy brain. It’s a protein that promotes brain function and encourages the growth of new neurons. Stevenson says running can boost your BDNF levels.
“BDNF is sort of like nutrition for your brain cells,” Stevenson says. “By running, you’re upregulating the concentration of this chemical in your brain. It helps protect your brain.”
Stevenson says exercise is beneficial to other parts of the body that can also help improve mental health.
“Although it is true that the brain regulates the rest of your body, it turns out that your gut regulates the brain,” he says. “So, a healthy gut, which can be modified by diet, exercise and lifestyle choices, can directly impact brain health.”
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