WHY Exercise is so Underrated (Brain Power & Movement Link)


To understand the injustice that has been
done to exercise, let’s pretend we’re back in 1995 and Nintendo is advertising the
Nintendo 64. When marketing, they talk solely about the
technical aspects of the machine and how it has a 93.7 megahertz processor compared to
the Super Nintendo’s measly 3.56 megahertz processor. The N64 flops and the entire marketing team
is fired since they failed to promote any relevant information like the actual nature
of the new games or even that an entire D was added, making the games 3D instead of
2D. Of course in reality, the Nintendo 64 did
quite well. This hypothetical marketing strategy is just
a parallel to the poor marketing strategy for exercise. The sales points of exercise up until now
were that it’s good for the heart and it will make you lose weight. First off, while these are good benefits,
they’re not nearly as compelling as the other benefits of exercise. “Good for the heart” is a vague notion
that’s encouraging only if you happen to be older and worried about a heart attack. Then, data is showing that exercise isn’t
even that effective for losing weight. A review of exercise intervention studies
published in 2001 by Queen’s University in Canada found that after 20 weeks, “the
amount of exercise energy expenditure had no correlation with weight loss” I’m not saying that exercise doesn’t affect
your body. The right kind of exercise increases muscle
mass and improves your insulin sensitivity, setting you up to have a healthier body composition. However, if you begin exercising without managing
other factors like diet, you may be very discouraged by poor weight loss results. “Does exercise work? So, here are studies of exercise – as you
can see when compared with no treatment, exercise resulted in very small weight loss across
the board. Exercise does not cause weight loss. What does exercise do? It causes muscle gain. Muscle have mitochondria, mitochondria burn
energy. So, exercise is the single best thing you
can do for yourself, but if you think it’s gonna show up on the scale, think again.” In a September 2016 issue of TIME magazine,
Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky said that “If there were a drug that could do for human health
everything that exercise can, it would likely be the most valuable pharmaceutical ever developed.” To understand what makes exercise so great,
we need to understand how it affects the brain. First off, what is the brain for? Some may say “we have brains to think! To create art and to come up with creative
solutions to complex problems!” but Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert argues that is not the case. “ We have a brain for one reason and one
reason only and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movement. There is no other reason to have a brain.” To illustrate this, Daniel uses the example
of a sea squirt. Early in its life, the sea squirt has a nervous
system. It will use this nervous system to move around
and find a suitable rock to attach itself to, then it will spend the rest of its life
there. At that point, movement is no longer a necessity
for survival, so the very first thing the sea squirt does is it digests its brain for
energy. A more relatable example is the Koala. The Koala has adapted its digestive system
to derive all the energy it needs from eucalyptus leaves. It really doesn’t need to move that much
as it can just sit in the tree, eat, and watch the world go by. Earlier in the Koala’s evolution, it used
to have a much bigger brain. However, once its diet became less diverse
and required less movement to survive, its brain shrunk. Less movement meant less brain was necessary. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s the
same as not wasting your money on a 4000 dollar laptop if all you need to do is run some simple
software like your web browser and email client. What research on exercise is suggesting, and
a better understanding of neurochemical mechanisms is proving, is that there is a very powerful
connection between the brain and movement. A big brain is necessary to facilitate complex
movements, and executing such movements and getting your heart rate up bolsters your brain
power. Exercise has been shown to help people learn
much more efficiently, better deal with stress, and drastically reduce anxiety. It improves mood to the point of lifting people
people out of depression, and it strengthens focus to the point that some ADHD patients
elect to throw out their prescriptions. And that’s not even the full list. The California Department of Education has
consistently shown that students with higher fitness scores have higher test scores. Former President Ma of Taiwan increased the
occurrence of Physical Education in schools nationwide from twice a week to three times
a week for this reason. The minister of education, science and technology
in South Korea extended the school day by 1 hour to add more time for PE and sports. This decision was made after reading Dr. John
Ratey’s book “SPARK” which is all about the brain benefits of exercising. The reason the Taiwanese and South Korean
school systems don’t just have students study for another hour is because exercise
actually primes the brain to learn faster. A 2007 study showed that subjects who did
high intensity exercise beforehand could learn vocabulary words 20% faster than those who
remained sedentary. The key to this phenomenon is a protein called
Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF for short. In order to learn something, the brain actually
needs to grow and modify its cellular infrastructure to allow neurons to fire more easily. Researchers found that “if they sprinkled
BDNF onto neurons in a petri dish, the cells automatically sprouted new branches, producing
the same structural growth required for learning.” This impressive result had John Ratey nickname
BDNF the “Miracle-Gro for the brain.” “BDNF improves the function of neurons,
encourages their growth, and strengthens and protects them against the natural process
of cell death. …BDNF is a crucial biological link between
thought, emotions and movement.” A 2013 study in the journal of sports science
and medicine showed that just 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise increased BDNF in the
blood by 32%. Rather than stocking up on coffee before you
sit down to study, you might want to try jogging around the block instead. One way to understand why exercise would trigger
your brain to initiate “learning mode” like this is to think of your body as the
world’s most intricate “IF THEN” system. Your body has triggers for almost every physiological
process. For example, IF cold THEN shiver. IF hot THEN sweat. Most of your body’s physiological expressions
can’t be induced just by force of will, certain triggers must be present. [“Alexa, increase my testosterone by 50%.” “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t
do that.” ] By understanding which physiological triggers
influence which physiological expressions, we can start getting our brains to do what
we want. The reason exercise is a key trigger for all
kinds of positive effects in the brain, particularly learning, is because movement signals to the
brain that something important is happening. Maybe not in modern times, but originally,
when we were moving, it was for the sake of survival. You move to escape a predator, to forage for
food, to hunt, et cetera. While moving, it’s in your best interest
to learn the lay of the land so you don’t get lost and can locate forageable food again. You had better remember how an attacking animal
moves and what path was most efficient to escape so you can prevent yourself from becoming
a carcass next time. When you’re loafing around, you’re not
convincing your brain that learning is necessary. From your brain’s perspective, being sedentary
means you’re safe, nothing important is happening, and it’s time to rest. When you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, you
might not associate him with intelligence. You might say he talks funny, and that his
success only comes from him being a novelty when musclebound guys were rare. However, no matter how much attention your
arms get you, you’ll need a lot of motivation, learning capacity, and focus to become a bodybuilder,
businessman, actor, investor, and politician. By the way it wasn’t his physique that made
him rich, he became a millionaire through real estate before he even began acting. Oh and all this while he was speaking in his
second language. There’s a good chance that Arnold can thank
his fitness for such an impressive display of focus and motivation. We owe our motivations and entire ‘will
to live’ to the brain’s reward center. With almost any activity we choose to do,
we do it because we expect some sort of reward. We strive for success in life because we expect
the reward of fulfillment, we eat candy bars for the rewarding taste and we do taxes for
the reward of not getting audited by the IRS. Without reward, our brains don’t have much
reason to do anything. An anti-obesity drug called Rimonabant was
a tragic example of this. Rimonabant is an endocannabinoid antagonist-
it’s an “anti-marijuana” medicine, which also means it’s “anti-munchies” medicine. It gets you to stop eating by inhibiting the
sense of reward from food, and unfortunately everything else. 20 percent of users experienced serious depression
and there were several suicides. Kill the reward system and you just might
want to kill yourself. Dopamine is a key player in the reward center. Dopamine is all about motivation and attention,
and is responsible for that feeling of satisfaction when we accomplish something. It makes you want to do things, and reassures
you that that thing was worth doing. So if your dopamine is not working properly,
you can find it hard to get things done, because you’re not getting enough fulfillment to
justify doing them. One of the ways the ADHD drug adderall works
is by mimicking the action of dopamine in the reward center of the brain. Adderall users can get so focused on mundane
tasks and blast through their to-do lists because everything becomes interesting. But you don’t have to go the pharmacy to
get your reward center going. Studies show that exercise boosts motivation
by increasing dopamine storage and triggering the creation of dopamine receptors in the
reward center. Exercise won’t have you staying up all night
in a studying frenzy like adderall, but it will give you more willpower and focus to
do those little things that don’t usually feel rewarding. Aside from its positive effects on dopamine,
exercise also elevates levels of norepinephrine and serotonin. When these three neurotransmitters are in
deficit, people become depressed. In a 1999 study, James Blumenthal compared
exercise to the anti-depressant Zoloft in a 16 week trial. They found that just thirty minutes of jogging,
three times a week was just as effective as Zoloft. But that’s only looking at depression. A 2006 study of over 19,000 Dutch twins and
their families showed that exercisers were less depressed, less anxious, more socially
outgoing and less neurotic. I guess it wasn’t hyperbole when Dr. Mark
Tarnopolsky said that if exercise were a drug, it would be the most valuable one ever developed. The last point about exercise and the brain
has to do with stress. Let’s take a look at the original stress
scenario: You’re chilling out eating berries or whatever and then you see a tiger advancing
towards you. Your fight or flight response switches on,
the pituitary gland secretes adrenocorticotropic hormone, cortisol is released, your heart
rate shoots up, your digestion turns off and you really start moving. You will exert an immense amount of effort,
after a couple minutes you will come to rest, then your physiological processes will calm
down, and your cortisol will quickly drop and stay down for the rest of the day. This is another example of the body’s IF
THEN sequencing: IF See tiger, THEN jack up cortisol. After that, it becomes: IF You have exerted
sufficient effort THEN lower cortisol levels. Unfortunately for most people they activate
the first part of this a lot, but they don’t activate the second part. Which means for most of the day, you’re
sitting around with a bunch of cortisol in your system. We’ve heard that stress makes you fat, and
indeed it does. Research shows that cortisol specifically
increases the accumulation visceral fat, which is linked to cardiovascular disease and metabolic
syndrome. But there’s a much more important area affected
by stress. Brain imaging has shown that people with frequently
high cortisol levels degrade their brain tissue much faster than normal. As cortisol rises, electrical signals in your
hippocampus deteriorate. The hippocampus is associated with learning,
memories, and of course stress control. However, by exercising in the morning, you
can dial down your cortisol levels and keep them down the rest of the day. Frequent exercise allows your body to become
much better at reacting to stress. I mentioned that exercise is as good as medication
for treating some issues, but exercise isn’t just for correcting health. Even if you are confident that you feel great,
have good focus, and you are happy with your ability to learn new things, you could still
improve all of these areas. If you’ve replaced say your headphones recently,
you probably were satisfied with the ones you had… until you tried better ones and
thought “Whoa! I could have been hearing in high quality
this whole time!” Then those new headphones become your new
standard. If you later put on your old headphones, you
think “God these sound like crap.” Starting an exercise routine feels like putting
on those new headphones. When someone mentions they don’t have time
for 20 minutes of exercise in the morning, it reminds me of one of my favorite Brian
Regan skits about eyeglasses: “How can instantly improved vision not be
at the top of your to do list? ‘Ah I’ll see tomorrow. I don’t- I don’t have time! I don’t have time. To see clearly. No. ” Sometime about two years ago, I was dissatisfied
with my productivity and thought I had a touch of ADHD, so I got a prescription for modafinil. Modafinil has been compared to the magical
productivity pill NZT in the movie “limitless”. Some users said colors look brighter and that
they instantly felt “switched on.” For me, not so much. There was never a particularly striking contrast
in how I felt on modafinil, just at some point during the day, I would look back and think
“Wow I really got a lot done today.” I stopped taking modafinil after just a few
weeks of trying it as I didn’t like the idea of relying on something for productivity. Now that I’ve finally made a habit of consistently
exercising first thing every morning, I have a lot of those moments where I look back and
say “Wow I really got a lot done.” But, any time I skip the exercise, it feels
like I’ve put my shitty old headphones back on.

About the author

Comments

  1. "Mens sana in corpore sano" an oft qouted phrase in the Roman Republic, approx 2,500 years ago. The sad fact of the decline in the pusuit of a classical education, especially in the USA, means that you need "marketing" to get the sad, useless products of the modern world to move their giant backsides off the couch. Given the nonsense they spout even when their brains are nourished and are healthy, makes me wonder whether they are even worth the effort

  2. Working 3rd shift I work out in the early am hours now….I like it, makes me feel better all around. Going to try and meal prep this week also fingers crossed…

  3. This is the best video on the youtube. I've been trying to explain people and straining so much. But in 2019.07 I'm seeing this. Pehv! LOVE YOU!!

  4. You should check out the Youtube channel Functional Patterns – all about how we can become smarter though movement, really interesting stuff

  5. Only unintelligent losers, would think Arnold Swarzenneger was unintelligent. He was already a millionaire before he started making movies.

  6. I wonder how this relates to all the Asperger people who score well on IQ but have a horrible coordination, which leads them to do very poorly in sports.

  7. Unfortunately, while I see the long term benefits of exercise, the costs make me really unmotivated to do exercise. I have sensory oversensitivity, which makes me really stressed after exercise because there is a lot of rubbing skin against clothes, touching stuff, temperature changes, sweating, etc. So I feel like instead of calming me down, exercise just makes me even more stressed out. I also have some weird histamine reaction, where exercise and stress lead to dizziness, so I often lay in bed unable to do anything for hours after exercise. I wish I would see that the benefits clearly outweight the costs for exercise but even after doing exercise for my neck for 1 1/2 months and it really helped my pain and dizziness from having neck issues, it still feels like a chore and I still have to ease my sensory system into it before exercise because otherwise I would be too overwhelmed.

  8. Yup, I know the obesity is a serious issue right now.

    Yet you need to remember Beethoven, Hawking and even George RR Martin. They didn't become smart by jogging I'm sure of that.

  9. After I exercise I don't want to be productive I want to drink diluted grapefruit juice and lay around all day.

  10. Umm, I can go exercise and literally come back and weigh over TEN POUNDS LESS THAN I WAS 3 HOURS AGO. I'm pretty sure exercising can help you lose weight…

  11. You can't expect to see results of exercise on the scale? Well who cares? I gladly lose fat without losing weight, way better than losing weight and still consist of fat only

  12. Thank you for this information that you've shared in a well researched and excellently edited presentation! I'm glad I'm finding out about all this stuff now I'm 50 and can get ready properly for what's coming over the next 50+ years. Thanks again.

  13. Love the headphone analogy! You are doing everybody a hide service with every video you put out— thank you!

  14. Whenever I do something like being at my desk all day, I feel tired and depressed. I am working and doing a lot, but it doesn't feel rewarding. Whenever I go out to the field to do a more active project, I feel better. The same happens when I workout. If I stop for a few days, I feel my motivations starts to degrade. As soon as I hit the gym again, I feel great and I am motivated to do more like adding more weights or running faster.

    Also, exercise does not really work for weight loss. I tried working out hard and eating more, but that only led to weight gain and fat gain. I have regulated my diet and I eat less junk food and more nutritional food and I've seen a big difference the last month. The human body is amazing!

  15. Couldn't it simply be that: People who aren't depressed exercise more?
    Rather than: Exercise makes you not depressed?
    Some of the citations/studies are true, but far too often its a blanket statement of "People who exercise were found to be less depressed.." and implying it could cure depression?

  16. This channel makes me feel like a superhuman and I think we as humans take our bodies for granted. I’m amazing dude

  17. Downloads yet another Electron app that spins up as 25% CPU utilization and 2GB RAM.

    I guess I have to buy a $4000 laptop.

    Seriously though, I just checked my activity monitor to see what "Google Chrome Helper" is up to.

    Apparently:

    429.3 +58.5 +26.1 +82.1 +11.0 +33.3 +61.2 +24.1 +91.4 +245.6 +49.4 +35.7 +63.8 +556.2 +77.4 +44.4 +290.1 +90.0 +83.7 +14.4 +17.4 +51.8 +17.0 +226.3 +74.7 +151.9 = 2906.8 MB

    In all fairness, that also includes email 😀

  18. Important information, our government should compulsory exercise on everyday basis from school levels, we require this subject life long

  19. I don't care if that drug made me get muscles in less than a week I would never take those types of drugs cause if you wanna get stronger than you gotta do it with your own strength otherwise what's even the point. People now days think of pride as nothing but useless but my pride is what guides my actions and I'm proud that I have pride left in an era like this

  20. Every student in every school should see and practice these principles..as I buy doughnuts from a Tim’s drive through…

  21. This video is so well put together. I came across your channel the other day and so glad I did – instantly hooked. It's a different type of motivation when you learn this subject as broken down in detail as you presented it. Thank you!

  22. from my experience exercise helped me get back to my 78 kg from 102..soo….saying that doesn't help you loose weight its bulshit

  23. Exercise is an excellent process keeping us from (storing fat) but (loose fat) unless we took months to convert our body to burn diet fat and protein while zero consumption in sugar or carbohydrates.

    It is too late to do any exercise beginning from two hours after each food ingestion because sugar and carbohydrates has been converted to body fat. Stop ingest those food prevent body fat dotage. The best time exercise to avoid fat storage is start mild exercise from first hour after carbohydrates and sugar food intake. You see the best is to eat and burn fat but sugar.

    Eat fat to loose fat …

  24. Atari used scarcity "something not generally available to the public." to their advantage. Soon 4 d games are gonna come out, but the advertising will keep that a surprise.

  25. Exercise is associated with wealth because wealthier parents have more time to encourage their kids to exercise, and wealth improves test scores by known mechanisms. How do you know that the elevated test scores seen in fitter California students aren't the result of that pathway?

  26. What is sad is that modern life is so screwed up that we have to define exercise as a special thing separate from other things. I.e. a bird does not "exercise," it flies. We need to redefine culture so that people fly…metaphorically.

  27. Can I give you advice on YouTube content? Can you please edit out the super annoying inhaling at the start of a whole lot of sentences ? It's very annoying to listen to and the sounds you make when you're lips get separated also

  28. At 7:04 my Alexa responded to this video saying "Sorry, I didn't find a device named 'My Testorone'"…. Damn Alexa that's cold….

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