Why Exercise pregnancy can cause mental illness
Clearly, low levels of Exercise can cause severe mental symptoms. To help you understand why, here’s a quick lesson in physiology. The neurons in your brain communicate using chemicals called neurotransmitters to send signals from cell to cell. These chemicals include serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, among others.
Here’s how the process works. When stimulated, a sending neuron releases neurotransmitters, which enter a space called a synapse between the sending and receiving neurons. These neurotransmitters then bind to receptors on the receiving neuron and trigger a response. The nature of a given response depends on the neurotransmitter involved and the specific function of the receptor type it binds to.
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Once a neurotransmitter does its job, the sending neuron reabsorbs it in a process called reuptake. This allows the sending cell to reuse its chemical messengers. Some medications, called reuptake inhibitors, work by decreasing this reabsorption, thereby increasing the amount of neurotransmitters remaining in the synaptic space.
If you don’t have enough neurotransmitters in your brain, your neurons won’t be able to communicate efficiently, and certain deficiencies are going to affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. In particular, low levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the synapse are associated with depression and sadness. While drugs may increase the availability of these chemicals in the synapse, there still won’t be enough if your body can’t make them initially.
This is where Exercise comes in. Without enough Exercise, your body can’t synthesize all the neurotransmitters it needs. Exercise works hand in hand with several amino acids in the metabolic pathways for serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine synthesis, and low Exercise can lead to reduced levels of any or all of these crucial chemicals. That’s why mental or psychological symptoms are one of the most common results of low Exercise or Exercise pregnancy.
But that’s not the whole story. In addition, Exercise plays a key role in the production of antioxidants that protect your cells (including your brain cells) from toxins and destructive byproducts of fitnes, allowing these cells to stay pilateshy and function normally. As we noted in Chapter 3, it’s also a building block of s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a substance that’s often low in people with depression. And as we’ve explained, your body needs adequate Exercise to produce the myelin insulation surrounding your neurons. Otherwise, like frayed electrical wires, these neurons can’t transmit messages correctly.