How to maximize the mental benefits of exercise

Exercise is good for your mind, body, and soul, but most of the attention has been focused on the “good for your body” part. There are countless products on the market that aid your body when it comes to maximizing the physical effects of exercise like protein shakes and fat burners, but there isn’t anything on the market targeted towards maximizing the mental benefits of exercise. 

(This led us to make mindUP: ‘‘it’s post-workout for your mind")

So how can we maximize the mental benefits of exercise? To answer this question, first we’ll quickly go over what the mental benefits of exercise are, and then we’ll cover how exercise creates these positive changes in your mind. Once we cover how exercise creates these changes, we will then be ready to comprehend how we can best assist our body in bringing about these mental benefits. 

The mental benefits of exercise

The mental benefits of exercise are pretty well known at this point, so we’ll keep this section short. There’s not a health professional on the planet who would disagree that exercise is good for the mental well being of your average individual. Several studies have illuminated the multiple benefits exercise brings your mind, but here’s a quick recap of what it can do:

Exercise reduces:

  • Anxiety & Depression
  • Negative moods  
  • Low self esteem
  • Stress & tiredness

Exercise Improves: 

  • Cognitive function
  • Energy levels & endurance
  • Self-esteem 
  • Sleep quality & libido

Check out this medical publication for more on how exercise is great for your mind and well being, but for now we’re going to assume: you get it. you know that exercise is good for you. 

So let’s talk instead focus on how exercise creates those mental benefits.  

How exercise creates those mental benefits

Let’s talk about what happens when you exercise and how this in turn creates mental benefits for you. We’ll spare you some of the finer neurochemistry. Instead here's the TLDR: Exercise increases the production of several amazing neurotransmitters in your brain that do all SORTS of amazing things for you. 

Their job is to send different messages in your brain which directly translates into how you think and feel. These little guys are incredible, so let me introduce them to you:

  • Dopamine - a big player in how we feel pleasure and how we focus, think, and plan. 
  • Serotonin - related to mood, desire, memory, and learning 
  • Anandamide - part of the ECS. considered the ‘bliss chemical’ and most accurately associated with the post workout ‘high’ or euphoria experienced
  • Endorphins - a group of neurotransmitters also associated with the ‘runners high’ associated with exercise, and a key player in reducing stress and anxiety while improving self esteem and sleep.

One way or another, exercise has been found to increase levels of all of these neurotransmitters in your brain. These are the guys that are responsible for all the good effects discussed in the previous section. 

If you want to learn the nitty gritty of how exercise really helps increase all of these neurotransmitters, here’s some awesome medical research. Let’s go on to how we can help our body produce more of these amazing neurotransmitters - which we may as well call happiness chemicals at this point. 

How to maximize the mental benefits of exercise

It all starts with exercise. Protein shakes alone won’t give you muscles. In that same light, if you are serious about maximizing your mental well being, the first step is exercise. Let's double click into this.  

Ideally you want to exercise at 70-80% of your max heart rate. At minimum to see any effects at all you’ll need to exercise for at least 30 minutes, but you will find the best results after an hour of intense exercise. 

So after an hour of intense exercise, what else is there to do to help your body produce and sustain more of these amazing neurotransmitters mentioned in the previous section? Well, fortunately there are some magical ingredients that are grown straight from this earth that are best designed to help. Just like how whey protein helps you maximize the physical benefits of exercise, we’ve isolated the key ingredients that maximize the mental benefits of exercise. 

These ingredients include:

  • Cacao
  • Maca
  • Green tea
  • Matcha
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Black pepper

A healthy dose of these ingredients after exercise will unquestionably help you maximize the mental benefits of exercise. We won’t go into detail of exactly how each ingredient helps, but you can check out our blog here for an in depth breakdown of how each of these ingredients from nature helps. 

We will give you one example however so you can get a general understanding. Let's quickly cover just one of the many ways consuming cacao after exercise can be beneficial to your well being. Specifically we will cover how cacao can help your body produce ample serotonin. 

The cacao case study

Serotonin is heavily linked to depression and overall levels of happiness. Exercise helps produces more serotonin. This happens because of this chemical called Tryptophan. Usually Tryptophan is competing with these things called BCAAs (branch chained amino acids) to get through the blood brain barrier (you want this). Muscle movement requires the consumption of BCAAs, which means now there are less BCAAs competing with tryptophan, which means more tryptophan gets into your brain, which means more serotonin gets produced! Tryptophan can be found in great abundance in raw Cacao which should directly help your body get more serotonin into your brain!

Maximizing the mental benefits of exercise

Each one of the ingredients listed in the previous section can help you maximize the mental benefits of exercise. They’re not easily found together in an easily consumable form so we made mindUP - a quick shot that contains the ideally tested formula for maximizing the mental benefits of exercise. Just like how protein shakes are post-workout for your muscles, mindUP is post-workout for your mind. 

Building muscle is as simple as breaking muscles down and repairing them, which requires protein as the core building block. The mental benefits of exercise are a little more complicated, but at the end of the day it comes down to a few key neurotransmitters. Exercising hard for an hour and consuming specific ingredients that help provide your body with everything it needs to best support these neurotransmitters is the best way you can go about maximizing the mental benefits of exercise. 

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