GETTING THE RECOMMENDED amount of either 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week has been linked to preventing stroke and heart disease, along with lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. And hitting the gym more often can increase the chance of getting all swole, and lower your risk of being a weakling.
But a single bout of physical activity (or acute exercise), a recent meta-analysis that appeared in the journal Brain Plasticity found, can offer a large array of positive changes in the brain. Researchers investigated a large amount of recent research that examined what happens to many aspects of brain functioning—cognitive, behavioral, neurophysiological, neurochemical—when people exercise.
They found two main things: Acute exercise boosted executive function, improved mood, and dropped stress levels; and a single exercise session created widespread changes across the brain at the physiological and chemical level. “The studies presented in this review clearly demonstrate that acute exercise has profound effects on brain chemistry and physiology, which has important implications for cognitive enhancements in healthy populations and symptom remediation in clinical populations,” said study co-author Julia C. Basso, Ph.D., a post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for Neural Science at New York University.