Some think waking up at 4 am during the week to hit that 5 am workout class may be crazy. However, in my opinion, conquering a workout at this hour of the day can make any day feel like an accomplishment – no matter how difficult sim or clinic may have been. Knowing that you fulfilled a goal for the day before half of the state is even awake is an accomplishment in itself, and that is something you can be proud of no matter how many marginal ridges you may have blown through in sim that day. You still feel like a winner.
Now – I’m not saying you HAVE to wake up at an absurd hour of the morning to get some physical activity in for the day. But I am saying that it is critical to staying sane through rigorous hours of class, sim, and clinic. It is a proven fact that exercise and brain function are strongly linked. In a research review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, aerobic exercise – such as cardio equipment – can improve a person’s cognitive function. In addition, resistance training was proven to enhance a person’s executive function (managing one’s self in order to achieve a goal) and also memory. It was then concluded that 45 minutes to an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise was good for the brain.
The link between brain function and exercise is extremely important in our dental careers, for dentists are always learning. Not only this, but no procedure in dentistry is ever the same! We constantly have to be on our A-game, ready to treatment plan for whatever patient may come our way. Better decisions can be made if our brain functioning is increased through exercise.
Not only can exercise improve our brain function and ability to make decisions throughout our careers, it is an opportunity to stray away from the stresses that school imposes on us. When we start to feel stress, the rest of the body feels an impact as well. Not only do we feel tired, our ability to concentrate decreases greatly, for our mind is usually running in a million different directions. That being said, if your body feels better through exercise – your mind will feel better as well.
However, how can exercise directly affect the stress response? Exercise and physical activity produce endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the brain that can decrease a pain response. In addition, they can improve our ability to sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial in reducing stress, for it results in one experiencing less fatigue to begin with. It is proven that regular participation in aerobic activity is shown to decrease levels of tension, increase moods, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. In fact, even five minutes of aerobic exercise can lead to a decrease in stress. That being said, next time you feel stressed out or if your mind is in a fog – go for run, hit the weights, hike outside, do SOMETHING! Get your body moving, and your mind will thank you!
Written by: Alina Halusic | Class of 2020