Why Is Exercise Good for the Brain?

Exercise is good for all your organs, including the brain! Mental activities can help your memory. But physical exertion can also help your brain. Just like any part of your body, getting more blood to the head helps its function. Additionally, exercise gets dopamine pumping for a mood boost, improves our focus and blood pressure — aiding the well-being of the brain’s blood vessels. A recent animal study showed that the hormones released by exercising might support synaptic plasticity, thus improving memory and learning.

The benefits of exercise aren’t limited to cognition but also the physical structure of the brain. Joe Northey, a Ph.D. candidate at the Univ. of Canberra explained, “When older adults undertake aerobic or resistance exercise, we see changes to the structure and function of areas of the brain responsible for complex mental tasks and memory function.

When mental exercise and physical exercise are combined into one activity, it’s two positive boosts in one. Learning a new dance step can get your mind working and your blood moving. Researchers, looking at the combined data from 39 studies, found that aerobic exercise seems to aid a person’s cognition and resistance training can boost a person’s executive function and memory. Tai chi was linked to improvements in cognition, though limited evidence suggests further studies are needed for that conclusion. The findings led the researchers to suggest that 45 minutes to an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise helped the brain.

We don’t know the perfect amount of exercise an individual should get to optimize their brain health. That's because the brain is a very complex organ. Moreover, our bodies and basal health are different. What might be a too easy workout for one person could be brutal for another.

There is no need to get discouraged if you aren’t someone with a history of exercising. There are ways to get started and keep on track when it comes to working out. As with all habits, starting small can help you build something more significant.

Different types of exercise have separate effects of the neurons and blood vessels of the brain. Therefore, having a mix of activities is important. But, the most important thing of all is just to get up and get moving!

April 04, 2019
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