Training and your brain
Exercise not only aids in keeping the body healthy, it keeps your brain sharp too.
Did you know that on top of the benefits felt by the body, the benefits of physical exercise have positive effects on brain function on multiple fronts, ranging from the molecular to behavioural level. According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions.
Exercise affects the brain in a number of ways. When your heart pumps faster it pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also stimulates the release many of hormones, all of which provide a favourable environment for the growth of new brain cells.
Exercise also creates an environment that stimulate growth of new connections between cells in a wide array of important areas of the brain. Recent research from UCLA showed that exercise increased growth factors in the brain—making it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.
From a behavioural perspective, the “runner’s high” found in humans is associated with a drop in stress hormones and an increase in some of the positive hormones. A study from Stockholm showed that the antidepressant effect of running was also associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
Tips for Choosing The Right Physical Exercise
- In general, anything that is good for your heart is great for your brain.
- Aerobic exercise is great for body and brain: not only does it improve brain function, but it also acts as a “first aid kit” on damaged brain cells.
- Exercising in the morning before going to work not only spikes brain activity and prepares you for mental stresses for the rest of the day, but also produces increases retention of new information, and better reaction to complex situations.
- When looking to change up your work out, look for an activity that incorporates coordination along with cardiovascular exercise, such as a dance class.
- If you like crunching time at the gym alone, opt for circuit work outs, which both quickly spike your heart rate, but also constantly redirect your attention.
- Hitting a wall or mentally exhausted? Try rebooting with a few jumping jacks for your brain improvement exercises.