Exercise is well known for improving your physical wellbeing, but did you also know that exercise directly improves the wellbeing of your brain too? Yep, concentrating and working behind a desk all day isn’t enough to “exercise your mind”, but rather you need to focus on performing exercises that keep the brain sharp, free from disease and functioning optimally.
With that said, exercise fits the bill perfectly! Not sure what it does for your brain? Then read on and be left awe struck.
Exercise Promotes Regeneration Of Brain Tissue
As we age, the ability of our brains to regenerate and for new cell growth is decreased significantly. However, research has found that regularly scheduled aerobic exercise sessions were able to significantly inhibit the loss of brain cells and associated shrinkage, in fact, after a period of six months, an increase in bran volume was reported in the group that performed regular aerobic exercise, compared to sedentary individuals who only perform light stretching or toning exercises.
Exercise Can Prevent Incidence Of Debilitating Depression
Ever notice that mega high you feel after successfully completing a workout, a run, or any type of workout? That is your brain on its happy hormone, serotonin, and dopamine.
When these levels of neurotransmitter hormones are high, your brain functions optimally with focus, quick calculating and the ability to recall information effortlessly.
Suffers of depression have reduced levels of serotonin especially, which typically lead to sluggish response time, mental fog and inability to concentrate. It is for this reason that exercise is regarded as an effective mood enhancer and natural remedy for depression.
Exercise Helps Keep Your Brain Well Fed
Our brain primarily uses glucose as its fuel source. However, in order for glucose to be efficiently shuttled to the brain cells, it requires the hormone insulin. Individuals who do not exercise on a regular basis (both aerobic and anaerobic varieties) typically have higher levels of insulin resistance, which is a fancy term to explain insulin’s efficiency.
High resistance means that it takes a lot more insulin to do the job of what a smaller amount should be able to do (think of 50 obese construction workers being needed to do the job of 10 fit ones).
Exercise keeps insulin resistance low, and promotes efficient transport of glucose to your brain. This translates to greater clarity, wakefulness, and improved ability to concentrate.
Exercise Diminishes The Effect Of Stress Hormones On The Brain
The stress hormone cortisol has been positively implicated in a host of processes related to premature aging and breakdown of body functions.
The brain is not exempt; in fact, you may be surprised to find out how much of your lapses in memory may be due to cortisol. In addition to the growth hormone and testosterone spike, which exercise results in, it also increase levels of a brain hormone referred to as BDNF, which helps keep the structures within the brain viable and healthy. In fact, it helps new cells to proliferate in instances where cell death is rapidly occurring.
Keeps Blood Vessels Healthy
Just as how diet, high cholesterol levels and inactivity can affect blood vessels surrounding the heart, so too can plaque formations develop in the brain. These plaque formations may be difficult to detect, but you may experience frequent light-headedness, mental cloudiness, or drowsiness. Or worse, a stroke may occur without notice.
Exercise helps to account for some cholesterol usage, increased oxidation of fat, or by helping improve blood flow to the brain subsequently.
The benefits of exercise on the brain cannot be discounted. The mere fact that exercise can keep you lucid well into old age should be enough incentive to get moving today!
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