It is common knowledge that Exercise is good for you, and many studies have investigated just why that is. Research has shown that repeated exercise over long periods of time can significantly alter mood and cognition, but researchers at New York University showed that it may be possible to get the same benefits by exercising once.

Previous research showed that exercise was beneficial to brain health

Regular exercise has been proven to increase the size of the hippocampus in healthy adults. The hippocampus is the portion of the brain responsible for higher level processes such as learning and memory.

This suggests that regular exercise may be an easy way to improve academic performance or even sharpen your skills in day to day activities. It has also been shown to reduce depression and anxiety.

While the long-term effects of exercise on the brain have already been established, a team of researchers at the Center for Neural Science at New York University set out to discover what the impact of a single round of exercise was. They believed that if they could identify the benefits of just one exercise session, then they would be better able to understand the mechanisms behind the long-term benefits

Benefits of exercise seen almost immediately

This research was lead by Wendy A. Suzuki Ph.D, a professor of neural science and psychology at NYU's Center for Neural Science.

The research examined the effects of just one hour of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is classified as anything that gets your heart rate up, causes breathing to increase, and results in movement of the body.

Suzuki and her team found that the impact of just one hour of this type of exercise was almost immediate. This means that even people who are unable to exercise the recommended 30 minutes a day may still be able to get the cognitive benefits of physical activity.

The researchers noticed that participants in this study saw improvements in mood, stress levels, and executive functioning. Executive functioning is the higher level mental capabilities that allow people to complete tasks that involve planning, focusing, and multitasking.

An additional finding in this study involved Serotonin levels in the brain.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. As a result, many people with mood disorders such as depression or anxiety are prescribed serotonin to help control their disorder. Suzuki's team discovered that a single exercise session was able to increase serotonin levels in the brain, helping to relieve stress and anxiety.