There have been many studies conducted on the effects of exercise on your mental health. Which is why it’s no secret that it can help improve your mood, self-esteem, productivity and concentration throughout the day.

Did you know?

There is research that proves regular exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus in your brain. But what does that mean?

The hippocampus is a small organ in your brain that is located in a region responsible for regulating emotions. The hippocampus is particularly important because it helps us with our memory. It helps us with our long term memory and allows us to make new memories.

Here are some things you can do to get your brain running smoothly.

Dance A Little… or A lot

Cardiovascular exercise is a great way to get the blood flowing. You could always hop on an elliptical or a treadmill if that’s what you love but if not, try dancing. There are a lot of ways you can incorporate dance into your life, you could try a Zumba or a barre class, or just dance at home.

“Get out of bed and start off your morning fitness routine by dancing to your favourite song for a few minutes. Move your arms, legs and hips to loosen up and bust out a few dance moves in the privacy of your own home.” – (Stephanie Mansour, CNN.com)

Strengthen your muscles and your mind

Once you’ve gotten your heart rate up from your dancing, try some quick strength exercises to help combat stress and anxiety.

Start with a standing quad stretch

Physical brain

Raise your foot to touch your butt and grab it with your hand. Keep your thighs parallel and your chest high. Hold this position for 10 seconds before switching to the other leg.

Move on to a squat with an arm reach

Keep feet hip width apart and squat reaching your arms straight up overhead, keep your chest facing forward and your eyes up. Press into your heels and stand up, bringing your arms back down to your sides. Repeat 10-20 times.

Don’t forget to Breathe

This last one is a breathing exercise to bring your focus back to you. Studies have shown that both breath-focused yoga and movement-focused yoga helped reduced stress, and breath-focused yoga helps with sustained attention.

This technique is very simple, called ‘Even breath’. In this technique, the inhales and exhales should be even, so the same amount of energy that is drawn in, is then recycled out. For example, breathe in for four counts, hold for 2 counts then breathe out for four counts and hold for 2 counts. This is something you can practice throughout the day, regardless of where you are.

Have a different morning routine? Let us know what works for you in the comments below.

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