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.

100 thoughts on “WHY Exercise is so Underrated (Brain Power & Movement Link)

  1. This former retired fitness trainer who ended up with a mild form of MS found this fascinating! I started working out in my 30s in the 1980s with weights and continued through my 40s along with some aerobics. My MS which was very hard to diagnose went into remission for around 20 years during which time I became a fitness trainer! Unfortunately, it got a bit worst by my 60s despite trying to keep the exercise up which is very hard to do when one has MS. Now at 71 I'm back to working out again and hoping a combination of yoga which I've also done off and on since the 1970s and working out with my weights will cause my MS to go back into remission again along with my very healthy clean eating plan. "A barbell is a girls' best friend", not necessarily diamonds! Thanks for the much needed info! " knowledge is power" as well as exercise!

  2. I'd love it if they did DNA tests or something deeper on people that genuinely like to work out, and people that genuinely don't like to work out. Then see if there are any patterns that tell us something. Then it'd be sweet if someday they could alter our genes to this "workout" profile (pipe dream). I just feel like people that like to work out, just already have that gene profile at birth that just gives them that gusto and yearning to move and be fit everyday for their whole lives…whereas the rest of us find it difficult to get up and work out on a regular basis and enjoy it. I mean over time if anyone works out long enough they'll enjoy it…But after a while these same people get out of it and go back to being out of shape back and forth…why?

  3. i excercise 5 times a week for 2 hours at a time. have not lost a pound….much more strength, less stressed and sleep better. all worth it and it feels terrible if i misss a day of excercise.

  4. my cat : If I meaow while my owner is near fridge he gives me food. But sometimes he does not! It is so exciting gamble!
    reality : I just feed her on certain hours and don't care about meowing…

  5. whoever is talking at the 2 min mark has no clue. he literally contradicts himself. he says that muscle increases with exercise but weight does not change. guess what DID reduced genius… body fat. the total weight which is measured in the study he quotes is completely meaningless to his point. your fatness is not related to your weight if your are putting on muscle. do a study analysing body fat percentage instead of weight. completely clueless interpretation of facts

  6. whatever. the other choice is lie down and die either way with a big fat belly. keep sucking on high amounts of high corn fructose sugar… it is in everything you buy in the supermarket

  7. Movement develops the brain its that simple, and humans are the most complex movers and thats why we have very complex nervus sistems/brains. Learning new moves makes new nevron pathways/patterns an brain capacity. So go learn some sports/moves specialy the ones that chalange your nervus sistem the most.

  8. My anecdotal evidence is the days I got up early before class and went for a medium-high intensity 30 minute run, I did way better in class.

  9. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you've read the studies you relate to during this vid in which case you should post links to them, it makes your research more credible and if people watching want to validate or go further in depth into particular points they can without having to then find the research themselves.

  10. Does the research correlate more to aerobic exercise as compared to strength training? Does strength training have similar effects on the brain?

  11. exercise is so not underrated. wtf is this title ? it's like one of the most popular thing, especially in the 21st century

  12. That information is misleading. Weight loss and body fat loss are two different things. Exercise helps with body fat loss (diet is extremely underrated), but since you gain muscle because of it, it does not necessarily cause weight loss. This is because muscle weighs more than fat. So yea it is correct that exercise may not cause weight gain, the video does not do a great job stating the fact that it does impact body fat.

  13. Damn I love this channel, just watched two videos. They are so informative, made me learn so much, especially things that are hard to find and need a lot of research. It's super interesting, keep it up, you deserve much more subs

  14. Lol at the lazy fucks subtly trying to justify that working out doesn’t help anything so they can justify sitting all day and play games. Put effort in your life or suffer.

  15. Exercise can make you lose weight it depends what type of exercise left heavy you get bigger run you get smaller. Then your body reaches a balance then you change diet drink only water boom smaller again

  16. I like to workout, but after I workout my body feels pumped up throughout the day but I have mental fatigue, I can't do things that requires concentration my brain feels tired and sleepy.

  17. I would recommend people to see a video about chemistry of weight loss, also known as "where does the weight go" quick conclusion is that we breathe most of it out as CO2 and we need exercise to make the CO2 avalible to leave in gas form, but if we eat too much there will always be a net-gain of stored carbon. Its simple, eat less (not nothing) and move more.

  18. When you get hurt after doing exercise, you would do not to do that again, otherwise you want to gain muscle you should accept muscle pain after you also must eat enough nutrition then having enough muscle repairing process, exercise and sports just a marketing.

  19. …and what did Arnold need a lot of to become the scandalous father of his housemaid’s son? 🙂

    …oops, not the point of all of this LOL on a serious note, great video 😀

  20. Watching Simpsons animation distracts me from listening. I better off not looking at the screen to be able to focus on the content.

  21. Ive been going to the gym consistently for a year now, have never felt better. Its a shame people assume the only reason why we lift weights is to get huge, but honestly the other benefits mentioned in this video is part of the reason too.

  22. I never thought the Simpsons would become so educational. Great video. Congratulations. What is your profession? Do you do all videos by yourself?

  23. I also was prescribed to Modafinil and quit for the same reason. I thought it was a cure for everything, until I realized it was mostly a placebo effect.

  24. I started working out again a week ago, currently doing 1hr of hiit 4x a week and the greatest reward comes from the psychological benefit. Because I’ve exercised, I feel more energized, more alert and more inclined to do more active alternatives such as climbing up stairs instead of taking the elevator. This is true even when the effects aren’t really there, I’ve been working out a week. But it feels as if they are.

  25. It’s true. If I do my homework without exercising beforehand I don’t feel anywhere near as satisfied as I do when I do workout. When I workout I feel like I can keep going without it stressing me out as much.

  26. I lost 50 lbs with no exercise. Exercise has never helped my depression, it makes me more tired, exhausted and less able to do the things I need to do. Animals are not frantically wasting their energy for the sake ofexercise. Your energy is a commodity. If you waste it on an activity you do not enjoy, that is foolish.

  27. Muy interesante. La relación entre el cerebro, estado físico y psicológico del ser humano. Es un tema que siempre me ha fascinado.
    Gracias por los subtítulos e incluso subtitularlos para cualquier idioma. Y por el trabajo realizado

  28. Stephen hawking had no movement and he had a lot more brain power than any athlete on the planet, I think it is back to the drawing board buddy. Humans still are struggling to fully understand the brain, so with this video making it seem like there is a manual, is total BS! Albert Einstein, leonardo da vinci, Newton and Tesla weren't athletes! There brain were smarter than every person through out human history!

  29. the more i walk the less i wanna talk to anybody, and i am still hungry and loose hardly any weight – i feel i played myself

  30. By exercise, are you referencing aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, etc, or does weight-lifting also have the same benefits?

  31. Freaking amazing video. I have a lot of respect for the work, the metafors and everything that you put into this video! Please keep it up.

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