Generally we accept that if we want that six-pack, we need to exercise for it, we want those long lean legs, we have to train hard for them, we would like toned arms, we have to exercise for those also. Although it’s not always our reason to exercise, the beneficial side effect of physical exercise is that we can get an additional brain boost by hitting the gym.
Physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, have positive effects on your brain in many different ways. Recent studies show that even briefly exercising for 20 minutes benefits the information processing and memory functions of the brain. If our brain could talk it would plead with us and say “Exercise me grow me and don’t let me wilt”.
So, why does your brain crave physical exercise? When we exercise, we increase your heart rate which in turn pumps more oxygen to your brain. Exercise also releases a range of hormones throughout your body all of which facilitate the right environment for the maintenance of healthy brain cells. You must be familiar with the term “runner’s high”, which many people experience following a workout, well this anti-depressant like effect is associated with a drop in stress hormones.
When it comes to the type of exercise that most benefits your brain, it helps to combine physical exercise with mental demands for example dancing. Dancing is a combination with both physical and mental demands with the result that it has a higher impact on cognitive functioning than activities that are either solely physical or solely mental. This indicates that the exercises that appear to be best for brain health should involve integration of different parts of the brain such as coordination, rhythm, and strategy.
Some tips for choosing the correct physical exercise to benefit your brain…
· Any exercise is better than no exercise…and anything that gets your heart pumping is great for your brain.
· Exercising in the morning before going to work will set you up for the day ahead. Not only does it increase your brain activity early, but it helps increase your ability to retain new information, and helps you react better to complex situations.
· Chose an activity that make you both think and move like a dance class or circuit training.
You won’t always love your workouts but you will always love the results…and your brain, if it could talk, would thank you.