Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Exercise is a brain booster!

One of the most interesting findings in the last few decades is that the increased oxygen that the brain gets while exercising is almost always accompanied by an upswing in mental sharpness. While this has often been associated with older exercisers, don't dismiss this for all exercisers in general.  Recent studies have shown that students who exercise regularly show increased levels of concentration, quicker reflexes and an improved ability to multi-task.

The brain is an amazing organ that consists of over 100 billion nerve cells that communicate with the assistance of hundreds of different chemicals that work together to create that "feel good" feeling after exercise.

Positive effects of exercise include:
  • mood boosting
  • natural antidepressant
  • augments memory and learning
  • increases brain density
  • stimulates growth of cerebral blood vessels
  • enhances communication between synopses
It is interesting to note that these studies determined that the intensity of the exercise mattered less than the frequency.  It was found that you don't even have to go for long periods of time, any amount of movement creates a positive response within the brain.  Basically, you can break up the time you spend exercising as long as you get out and move your body.

There’s plenty of evidence that suggest that regular aerobic exercise also helps the brain by reducing stress and anxiety and decreases the chance of  diabetes and cognitive decline.

The positive effects of regular exercise with young adults and brain function is just beginning to be understood; however, there is evidence suggesting a significant relationship between physical activity and increased cognitive function through to adulthood.  This means that no matter how smart you are, your brain gets better with physical activity. 

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Carpentier J. Keys to Enhance Brainpower. American Fitness. May 2010;28(3):62-63.
2. Fernández Á. Healthy brain aging: why we need to retool 'Use it or lose it'. Journal On Active Aging. July 2009;8(4):40-43.
3. Kleim J. Exercise and the Brain: Exciting discoveries underscore how exercise benefits brain health and boosts lifelong learning. IDEA Fitness Journal.March 2011;8(3):74-76. 
4. Kravitz L. Exercise and the Brain: It Will Make You Want to Work Out. IDEA Fitness Journal. February 2010;7(2):18-19.
5. Lifelong Aerobic Training Preserves Brain Health. IDEA Fitness Journal. October 2011;8(9):74.
6. Study Finds Exercise Improves Thinking. Parks & Recreation. December 2007;42(12):18.
7. Roy B. Exercise and the Brain: More Reasons to Keep Moving. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal. September 2012;16(5):3.

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