In a way it should come as no surprise that, according to a number of scientific studies, being physically fit can help you to be mentally fit also. These studies show that having a healthy heart and lungs can have a profoundly positive effect on your brain. So, not only does following a healthy lifestyle result in a healthier you but your brain benefits too...but, what exactly are the benefits to your brain?
Improve your concentration
Numerous studies of school aged teens have shown that exercise can help you focus and stay on task. When teens complete as little as thirty minutes of aerobic exercise daily, such as running or swimming, the result is a larger basal ganglia (the part of the brain which helps you pay attention). this means that you are not as easily distracted and can stay focused. Also, a large randomised controlled trial in the US looked at the effects of daily after-school sports classes on pupils over a school year. The children became fitter as a result, but, as a side effect, their executive control improved. They became better at ignoring distractions, improved their multitasking abilities, and daw their ability at holding and manipulating information in their minds improve also.
Improve your memory bank
The reason that being fit boosts your memory bank capacity is that when you exercise, your brain develops new brain cells in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. This area of your brain responds strongly to aerobic exercise. Studies involving children, adults and senior citizens show that this area of the brain produces new cells as people get fitter. These cells are available at the core of the brain’s learning and memory systems, to provide memory boosting effects.
Improve your mental health
Whatever your feelings on exercise, it has been shown that bouts of physical activity relieves stress, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. The feeling of elation that those who exercise feel following an intense workout is real. In fact, the intensity of the workout is not all the important. Research has indicated that even modest amounts of exercise can be used as a powerful tool to feel better. Exercise is also emerging as a promising way to overcome depression. Indeed, exercise seemed as effective as antidepressant drugs and psychological treatments for some people. It is an area that is crying out for more rigorous investigation.
Slowing cognitive decline
There is a link between the aging process and exercise. Being fit and healthy does not slow the aging process but it does slow the effects of aging on your body. Not only that, studies also show that staying physically fit as you age also keeps your brain healthy into old age. These benefits can be felt from moderate workouts such as 30-45 minutes of brisk walking three times a week. Even though it is never too late to benefit from exercise, it pays to start early so that the protective effects help to stave off mental wear and tear and help to delay the onset of dementia.
Don’t sit still
Our brain is not an organ that just responds to literary and numeracy tasks. Sitting still all day, every day is not good...in fact, "sitting is the new smoking" is a phrase that is getting a lot of traction. So don’t worry about what form of exercise you do. Find something you enjoy and do it regularly.