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The Power of Everyday Activities

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You know that feeling you get when you’ve pushed yourself to get moving, whether it’s to take care of the yard or clean the car, and suddenly you have more energy?   Even though it felt so overwhelming to just get started, that feeling of sudden energy after getting up to do everyday activities has real-time effects on our brains which does result in extra energy.

               Research done last month at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology focused on how everyday activities requiring simple physical movement impacts wellbeing:  by boosting energy.  Sixty-seven participants surveyed about energy levels before and after everyday activities reported more energy after the activities which required them to be ambulatory (rather than stationary).   As brain scans showed, people who were already self-described as low energy or those with a predisposition towards any mental health condition benefited the most.

               This two-fold study measured the volume of gray brain matter in another group of eighty-three adults.  Their MRI scans determined a connection between mundane daily tasks and feelings of wellbeing in a part of the cerebral cortex known as the subgenual cingulate cortex.  This area of the brain is tied to feelings of subjective energy and the act of physical movement, while also being the part of the brain responsible for defense against psychiatric disorders and helping regulate emotional responses.

               People who had smaller amounts of gray brain matter in the cerebral cortex and a tendency towards mood imbalances boosted their energy more after doing simple, everyday activities than the people who had more gray matter in that region.

               Sometimes we all need to be inactive and take a break; but chances are, if you get yourself moving and focus on small journeys upstairs or hanging laundry out to dry, you’ll find that energy you thought you were lacking.

References

Reichert M;Braun U;Gan G., et al. A neural mechanism for affective well-being: Subgenual cingulate cortex mediates real-life effects of nonexercise activity on energy. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33158875/

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