Exercise For Your Brain

Let’s Get Physical

exercise

noun

physical activity that you do to make your body strong and healthy.

By now, we all know that exercise is good for the body and key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. According to the National Institute of Health, exercise can help to control weight, strengthen bones and muscles, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve your sleep and even, increase your chances of living longer.

However, it’s not always possible to exercise. Life often gets in the way of plans and exercise drops to the bottom of the to-do list. Or you’re just lazy and there are a hundred and one different reasons (excuses) for why you’re not moving your body, including but not limited to:

  • It’s raining
  • Your running shorts are in the wash
  • you’re tired from a busy day at work
  • The weather is too hot
  • The dog ate your trainers.

The list is endless. But it does have some great benefits and some of these extend far beyond health and  fitness.

Your brain loves to exercise.

Research conducted over the last 10 years has allowed us to understand the positive impact of physical activity on the brain. 

Alzheimer’s

Based on research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, exercise can help to promote protection against Alzheimer’s. In a study of 93 adults with an average age of 64, all of whom had at least one parent with a gene variation linked to Alzheimer’s. The study found those who did moderate to intense exercise had healthier brain activity than those who didn’t do as much. 

Another study looked at cardiorespiratory fitness concerning brain structure, mood and cognition in middle-aged people with an inherited predisposition to Alzheimer’s. Okonkwo et al. found larger brain volume in the reasoning and executive function part of the brain in those who regularly exercise. Furthermore, the study concludes that exercise can help to diminish brain changes in cognition associated with old age.

But it’s not just Alzheimer’s that exercise can help protect against. It also increases your heart rate, and this allows more oxygen to be pumped to the brain. Researches at UCLA discovered that physical activity can help to build new neural connections, further benefiting cognitive plasticity

Feel-Good Factor

Exercise also has the feel-good factor. Research published in the National Library of Medicine by Bjørnebekk et al. explains how “runners-high” is a science-backed term and running has an “antidepressant effect.” Furthermore, running has shown to increase cell growth in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls learning and memory. So grab your trainers (or sneakers) and go for a run, right now!

There you have it, exercise is better for than you ever thought. It has so many great benefits for you and it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. If you find yourself dreading your workouts, make them fun and do what you enjoy. Try jumping rope, getting a running buddy or even start dancing – whatever gets you up and moving!

However, there is such a thing as too much exercise. So, be sure to check with your GP or trainer before you embark on a new physical activity and to ensure you’re doing the correct exercise for the right amount of time.  

Whilst you’re here, you may as well take a look at some of our other posts:

Sources Cited:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28527205/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25319359/

https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15769301/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306452206003228

Sajal Azam

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