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In common life scenarios, the majority of individuals consider exercise as a practice that is only beneficial to the body’s well-being. Although this may be right, it is important for all individuals to note that exercise is also beneficial to the proper functioning of the brain because it primarily aids brain processes aimed at eliminating dangerous stress substances.
Also, exercise can also aid individual conceptualization of knowledge in that; it helps to improve problem-solving and scheduling abilities by eliminating attention deficits in the brain. For the brain to achieve this, it is important to note that, the brain has to have some organs that aid the exercising activity; hence acting as intrinsic motivators.
On the other hand, it is also important to note that many other physiological and external factors that influence the functioning of the brain as concerns exercise. These factors include the surrounding environment and heredity.
The Brain and Exercise
The brain’s working depends on the coordination of its structures, because through cooperation, there is a correct exchange of appropriate data, hence enabling correct passing of required feedbacks and responses. The body’s neurons play the role of passing information to and from the brain to other body parts, something it achieves via electrical impulses.
The entire Body’s system comprises of many neurons that function differently depending on the roles they are supposed to perform; either transmit impulses to the brain or feedbacks to body parts; hence, eliciting correct reactions depending on the prevailing situation. In this regard, it is important to note that, the body has three main sets of neurons, namely: the sensory, interneuron, and motor neurons.
Generally, these three sets of neurons coordinate to ensure required information reaches the brain, where it is processed; hence, sending required feedbacks to the body on the kind of reaction it should produce.
Sensory neurons are main receivers of information from the skin’s surface, whereby they pass such information to the brain (where processing takes place); interneurons act as a connecting mechanism between the sensory and motor neurons, whereas motor neurons complete the process by passing recommended actions to the connective tissues or glands.
Working of neurons depends on the nature of communication between the dendrites and other neuron parts, whereby the dendrites receive information inform of electrical impulses, transfers it to the axon; a process that ensures impulses reach their right destinations. Hence, considering this it is not wrong for one to argue that, neurons play the overall role of ensuring the body works appropriately.
For neurons to pass on their information correctly, neurotransmitters have to aid them, because the passing of information is in the form of electrical impulses. Completion of the information transfer by neurotransmitters leads to a reverse process, whereby the neurons that produced such neurotransmitters takes them back (Decker, 2005, pp. 93-95).
The body has many neurotransmitters that aid in the process of information transfer one of them being dopamine; a form of neurotransmitter that is primarily involved with practices that create gratification and pleasure effects to the brain.
Depending on the quantities of dopamine released by the neurons, the degree of pleasure varies; whereby in most cases, anything that triggers the release of dopamine turns to be addictive. Research studies show that majority of drugs used either for medicinal or abuse purpose, for example; cocaine has great effects as pertains to release of dopamine; a factor that makes most of them addictive hence, a most individual who has used them once face the problem of quitting their use.
The same is not different from exercise, because exercise is also very addictive if individuals get used to it. That is, strenuous exercise is one of the causative agents that can influence the release of dopamine; hence, because of the pleasure associated with the release, an exercise in most cases becomes very addictive.
It is important to note that, exercise activates many bodily functions hence making individuals “high,” which is a condition that triggers mood activation. This is because, through exercise, the body is given a chance of relaxing, something that results due to exciting feelings that alter individuals’ dispositions.
In this regard, due to anticipated ecstatic feelings that most individuals associate the practice with, exercise is becoming a very addictive practice that most individuals cannot live without once they venture into it. It is necessary to note here that, even if exercise becomes an addictive practice, it does not have those abusive characteristics associated with drug use. The only correlation between exercise and drug addiction is that both cause some sweet sensation to the body, primarily because they are brain activators.
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On the other hand, considering functions performed by the hippocampus, for continuous memorization and grasping of concepts learned, there is a need for the development of new cells, a factor that exercise promotes via a process called neurogenesis. Also, exercise is very crucial to the brain in that; it helps to optimize the brain’s working primarily via aerobic exercises (Cotman & Berchtold, 2002, pp. 297-299).
The Environment and Exercise
Apart from this intrinsic factor, psychologically the surrounding environments have a role to play as concerns the shaping of certain behaviors in individuals. Therefore, exercise being one of the common societal practices, the external environments where individuals thrive can influence in many ways exercise habits. For example, in the common societal settings, most individuals perceive a slim body as a perfect attribute in terms of shape, which all individual must have.
This occurs primarily because present societies accord great value to external (physical) features of individuals. This in many ways acts as drives to exercise because, for an individual to fit in certain societal groups, which they consider best for them, they must have similar characteristics as members of those groups (French, Story, & Jeffrey, 2001, pp. 318- 323).
The drive to exercise to fit in specific societal groups is an extrinsic motivator because the social forces it on an individual. Although it is good for an individual to conform to their specific groups’ characteristics, the pressure associated with such demands sometimes is very stressing due to variability in a society’s lifestyle patterns. In most cases, this occurs because societies base the need to look good and “presentable” on external factors that are of little significance to the well-being of the body.
Also, because there is great variability in terms a society’s perception of beauty with time, in most cases the task of conforming to such demands become a daunting task to most individuals; hence, resulting to stress rather than being benefits. Although this is the case in most extrinsically motivated exercises, in most cases due to internalization of this practice, gradually individuals will adopt it as part of their daily lifestyle hence, making it a basic need; changing it from an extrinsically driven behavior to an intrinsically driven behavior.
Genetics and Exercise
Apart from dopamine production and environmental effects that trigger the drive to exercise, the need to exercise in some cases purely results due to intrinsic factors that aim to ensure an individual is physically and emotionally well. This, therefore, makes heredity to play a key role as far as addiction to exercise is concerned.
This is because, depending on an individual’s genetic origin, the satisfaction derived from exercise varies. This, therefore, makes it hard to measure the amount of satisfaction that different individuals will gain from an exercise program, whether intrinsically or extrinsically driven (Roth, 2007, pp. 3-6).
Also, although the need to exercise depends on intrinsic or extrinsic factors, in most case what determines this drive is either the satisfaction or gain individuals expect from it. Therefore, there is a close correlation between the drive to exercise and production of dopamine because both have an addictive characteristic. However, due to many negative effects that may result due to this addiction, it is important for all individual to take precaution to avoid turning a beneficial practice into something harmful to the well-being of the body.
It is necessary to note that the entire excise activity depends on the amount of gain resulting from it. This is in line with the drive to succeed in whatever endeavors individual venture into; hence, making the entire process a result oriented practice. In this regard, depending on the amount of pleasure resulting from exercise, an individual can have varying degrees of valuing exercise; hence, affecting their adoption of the practice.
In conclusion, exercise is a very crucial practice that ensures the body functions well and remains strong at all times. This, therefore, makes it important for all individuals to exercise although they should ensure the drive to do it is intrinsic to them.
Cotman, C. W., & Berchtold, N. C. (2002). Exercise: a behavioral intervention to enhance brain healthy and plasticity. Trends in Neuroscience, 25(1), 295-301. Web.
Deckers, L. (2005). Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
French, S. A., Story, M., & Jeffrey, R. W. (2001). Environmental influences on eating Physical activity. Public Health Review, 22, 309-335. Web.
Roth, S. M. (2007). Genetics primer for exercise science and health. Champaign: Human kinetics Publishers. Web.