Have you ever thought about what happens in your brain when you’re moving around working up a sweat? Most people know that exercise protects against diseases such as cancer and diabetes. And if you’ve ever opened a celebrity magazine, you know that exercise helps you with weight control and building stronger muscles. But what happens inside your body is much more interesting: moving your body will actually help you get out of depression! When you exercise, chemicals that contribute to happiness and pleasure are released in the brain. This means that someone who has just finished a power walk feels happier immediately! This part of the brain is called the prefrontal cortex. It has many important responsibilities, and you activate it when you exercise. The prefrontal cortex acts as an emotional brake that helps you handle strong emotions, which can be important when you’re going through depression. It’s also in charge of concentration. Perhaps you have noticed that it’s harder to concentrate? When you exercise, your prefrontal cortex gets busier, and your ability to concentrate and react quickly will improve immediately. A good idea is to do some light jogging an hour before an exam or an important meeting. Now you know a bit about what happens in your brain immediately after working up a sweat. But what happens in the long run if you make exercise a regular thing? Moving your body a few times a week means new brain cells are born inside your head, both in the prefrontal cortex and in this other neat brain area called the Hippocampus. These areas of the brain get bigger. The hippocampus is a part of your body that you really want to keep as big as possible. Among other things it’s responsible for long-term memory. So, what happens inside your body when you take a sweaty walk is much more important than what happens on the outside! You will become better at handling emotions, and be able to concentrate and remember things. Perhaps most importantly, it will affect your mood in a positive way.