Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Be Generally More Awesome

So... I missed my Monday AM post.  Ugh.

Did you notice?  I hope it wasn't a huge deal.  I do try to update this blog with something interesting every Mon/Wed/Fri if I can.  But, computer problems kept me away on Monday.

Whatever, I'm baaaaacckkkkk!  So let's get down to business!

I recently stumbled across this interesting snippet on MSN Now... you know, the supremely professional news place that posts headlines which are totally relevant and useful for the world to know, like corgis that balance stuff on their head, and people who dress like Darth Vader and run a mile in Death Valley on the hottest day ever (true story).

Like I said, a supremely professional news place.  Totally relevant and useful knowledge.

Anyhow, the article I read was this:

See the MSN post here.

I find it super interesting that this is still news in MSN's eyes.  I mean, most people know by now that if you have a bad day, and then go pound it out at the gym, you'll feel better... right?  And as a result of relieving that stress, you'll be calmer/more confident the next day? 

If you didn't know this already, post some feedback below.  Seriously.  Because I'm curious to know if this is news to anyone else.

I digress.

Going back to the article.  MSN did an interesting job of summarizing the source article, but left out what I thought was the most interesting points - surprise (*insert sarcastic eye roll*).  Feel free to read the source story here.

Here are the highlights of what I would have pulled from the source story for you to ponder, along with my commentary in italics:


"For some time, scientists studying exercise have been puzzled by physical activity’s two seemingly incompatible effects on the brain. On the one hand, exercise is known to prompt the creation of new and very excitable brain cells. At the same time, exercise can induce an overall pattern of calm in certain parts of the brain."

Awesome!  By working out, I get more brain cells?  Does that mean I'm smarter, too?  Because, if so, I'd like someone to explain how getting up at 4am to do a race proves I am "smarter".  And, if we are supposed to be more calm, why do we all get so stinkin' nervous at the start line?  This doesn't make one lick of sense. 

Me, 4 am, debating why I am doing Bloomington Iron Girl 2012.  Where are said brain cells?


"Given access to cages with open, well-lighted areas, as well as shadowy corners, the running mice were more willing to cautiously explore and spend time in open areas, an indication that they were more confident and less anxious than the sedentary animals."

Oh, so this explains #1 above, then.  The increased confidence resulting from my exercise, with the additional brain cells, are to blame for my brain thinking I should get up at 4am to explore "open areas".  I guess the jury is still out on the start line anxiety, though.

More willing to cautiously explore open areas... check.


"The scientists next gently placed mice in ice-cold water for five minutes. Mice do not enjoy cold water. They find immersion stressful and anxiety-inducing, although it is not life-threatening.

In both the physically fit and the sedentary mice, large numbers of the excitable cells had fired in response to the cold bath. Emotionally, the animals had become fired up by the stress.

But with the runners, it didn’t last long. Their brains, unlike those of the sedentary animals, showed evidence that the shushing neurons also had been activated in large numbers, releasing GABA, calming the excitable neurons’ activity and presumably keeping unnecessary anxiety at bay."

They find immersion in ice-cold water stressful?  You don't say.  But seriously, this is interesting.  I guess that we active folks don't automatically avoid the anxiety (nerves at the start line), but we get over it quickly (the gun shot and we're off, totally forgetting the nerves and focusing on the race).  Makes sense.

Able to keep unnecessary anxiety at bay... check.

Ok, ok!  Onto a serious note.  In reviewing points 1-3 above, it's pretty impressive to think that keeping physically active helps our brains to not only produce new cells, but also helps keep you cool and calm sooner in stressful situations.

I mean, if it didn't, would I be able to run 2 miles, bike 25 miles, run 2 more miles and then do this while laughing at myself for 10 minutes?

So... do you really need more motivation to work out? 

Like MSN says, it makes you generally more awesome.  Go do it already!

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