Exercise Promotes Brain Fitness in Everyone

It is common to hear people talk a lot about exercising and staying healthy. Sometimes you might have heard the sentence ‘your brain is like the muscle’. Of course, this kind of comparison will support the brain industry and can keep millions of people globally to sit at their desk, do math problems, write essays, etc. Kind of obnoxious. But it is true.

For building your muscles, you need to work your muscles. However, when it comes to your brain, there needs to be a more coincidental approach. Keep in mind that by getting busy with working your glutes can simply benefit your body as well as the grey cells. So, exercising will indeed make you smarter and of course healthier.

Exercise Affects Brain

If you assume exercise affects only the brain, then you need to listen more. It increases heart rate, thereby pumping a whole lot of oxygen to the brain. It will even aid in releasing hormones that provides a good environment for the brain cell’s growth. Exercising can help in promoting brain plasticity which is possible by stimulating the growth of new connections among cells present in various significant cortical areas of the brain.

There are various studies and researches that show exercising increases the growth factor present in the brain. Hence, this makes it easier for the brain to grow brand new neuronal connections. For getting a better feel-good perspective, the same kind of antidepressant-like effects which is associated with the runner’s high will correlate to the drop in the stress hormones.

One of the studies displayed the effect of the antidepressant. This was based on running which was associated with the greater cell growth in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning function of the brain. Furthermore, this study even states that the suppression of the cell proliferation of the hippocampus will contain the major mechanism for depression. It showed that physical activity might be a great antidepressant.

Exercise Affects Brain on Various Fronts

One of the major benefits of exercising is that it increases heart rate, which brings in more oxygen to the brain. Plus, it will even assist in the bodily release of various hormones, that can participate in helping and providing a good environment for the brain cells’ growth.

Stimulating Brain

No doubt exercise helps in stimulating the brain plasticity. This is done by stimulating the growth of new connections among cells in a wide array of important cortical areas of the brain. Various researches show that exercise increases growth factors in the brain. It makes the brain easier to grow new neuronal connections.

Frankly, from a behavioral perspective, you might be surprised to see that the same antidepressant-like effects associated with “runner’s high” are found in humans. Most importantly, this is associated with a decrease in the stress hormones. Studies show that the antidepressant effect of running can be associated with more growth of cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Physical & Mental Exercise – Golden Duo

Do you know that the usage of physical exercise along with good amount of brain training will increase the chances of improving one’s cognitive functions along with specific parameters? This includes exercising style and time of exercising.

Now you might be surprised to know that there is a difference in the exercising styles like running and cycling. This is simply associated with the enhanced brain function of the human body, when you are doing it and after working out. Frankly, trying ballroom dancing can be good for your body. This activity has both mental and physical demands, along with provides higher impact on the cognitive functions of exercising and mental task alone. Of course, this is one of the best brain health and mind workouts that considers the various parts of the brain like the rhythm, coordination and strategy.

Type of Workout You Do Can Matter

Sometimes the kind of workout you do will have a deep impact on your mental and physical health. There is no doubt that the type of workout and method of being fit is necessary. And most importantly, this plays a major role whether you are having any kind of cognitive benefits. Here, it is all about simply counting calories to become thin. There is still the requirement of doing good amount of exercising.

Do you know there is a term in the medical field for people who aren’t healthy? The ones who are not overall healthy but manage to remain thin are called as TOFI (Thin Outside Fat Inside). Here rather than showing or displaying fat externally and being overweight, such individuals will end up in carrying weight viscerally, which is simply around the internal organs. Now this is very much harmful for the entire health and even for the brain health.

Among the three kinds of people – people who lose weight by restrictive eating, individuals who lose weight by exercising and the ones who follow the combination of two, only the people who exercise regularly for reducing weight have enjoyed a huge improvement.

Frankly, it is necessary that you concentrate on the kind of exercise you are doing. This is especially if your goal is to maximize the cognitive health. By following a multi-component routine which is fixed on flexibility, balance, and aerobic fitness, you can get better results by focusing on a single kind of exercise.

For example, take the exercise tai chi which has been heralded as one of the best exercising routines that encompasses all the required cognition. In addition, a meta-analysis of the research on the tai-chi and cognition showed that the tai chi showed a greater effect on the cognitive function compared to other exercises. But the exercise you choose should be better for your brain and it needs to make your body healthy.

Steps to Select the Correct Physical Exercise

Generally, all the things that are best for your heart will be great for your brain.

  • No doubt, aerobic exercise is great for the body as well as brain. It will not only improve the functions of the brain and it will be a first aid kit for the damaged cells.
  • By doing exercise in the morning just before going to work will not only spike the activities of the brain and even prepares for the mental stress for the entire day.
  • While looking at modifying your workout, you need to check out the activity that can incorporate coordination. This along with cardiovascular exercise will be good for your heart just like a dance class.
  • Now if you are crunching time at the gym alone, there are exercises like circuit work out. This will easily increase your heart rate and even redirect the required attention.
  • Are you hitting the wall or feeling a mentally exhausted? All you need to do is reboot through few jumping jacks for the brain, especially the improvement exercises.

Basic Advantage of Doing Exercising for Your Brain

Boosting Memory

The basic part of the brain responding to aerobic exercise in a strong manner is called the hippocampus. There were well-controlled experiments done on kids, adults and the elderly. This simply showed brain structure grows and develops as people become fitter. As the hippocampus is right at the core of the brain’s memory and learning systems, this finding easily explains the memory-boosting effects that can improve cardiovascular fitness.

Besides slowly improving the memory hardware, exercise will have a good and more immediate impact on memory formation. Various researchers show that through walking or cycling while, but not before, learning can easily help to learn new foreign language vocabulary and stick to it. So, make sure to exercise while you revise. Make sure that you aren’t pushing it too hard, though. Keep in mind that sometimes vigorous workouts will improve and raise your stress levels. Ultimately this will easily scupper your memory circuits.

Improving Concentration Level

Along with making memories stickier, there is a huge advantage of exercising. It will help one to remain focused and be on the task. Here the best scientific evidence will come, or one can get from testing school children or kids. However, the same will most likely applies to most of us. Interspersing lessons with 20-minute bouts of aerobics-style exercise improved the attention spans of certain school students. In the same way, a huge randomized controlled trial that was conducted in the US worked on the effects of the daily after-school sports classes over a school year.

The result was the kids became fitter and healthy. Along with that they become less predictably, and most importantly. their executive control improved greatly. In addition, they became more and more adept in easily avoiding all kinds of distractions, multitasking, and holding and manipulating information in their minds.

Now if this feels like a huge amount of hard work, you might need to get out of breath to reap the attention-honing effects of exercise. All you need to do is just ten or fifteen minutes of playful coordination skills, like bouncing two balls at the same time will easily improve the attention of a large group of teenagers.

Improving Your Mental Health

Love it or hate it, no doubt the bouts of physical activity can have a great effect on your mood. The runner’s high – that feeling of elation that follows intense exercise – is real. Even mice get it. It may not be due to an “endorphin rush”, though. Levels of the body’s homemade opiate do rise in the bloodstream, but it’s not clear how much endorphin gets into the brain. Instead, recent evidence points to a pleasurable and pain-killing firing of the endocannabinoid system: the psychoactive receptor of cannabis.

What about yoga? Does it really help with stress? Once the anxiety levels rise, you can become tense up, your heart races and the attention of your mind will narrow to a slit. This will indefinitely shift to fight or flight mode. Now this is automatic, but that doesn’t mean it’s wholly out of your control. Yoga teaches the deliberate command of movement and breathing, with the aim of turning on the body’s “relaxation response”. Science increasingly backs this claim. For example, a 2010 study put participants through eight weeks of daily yoga and meditation practice. In parallel with self-reported stress-reduction, brain scans showed shrinkage of part of their amygdala, a deep-brain structure strongly implicated in processing stress, fear and anxiety.

Exercise is also emerging as a promising way to overcome depression. A recent study cautiously reported that exercise in the form of both aerobic and resistance was extensively effective in treating depressive symptoms. Strikingly, exercise seemed as effective as antidepressant drugs and psychological treatments.

Enhancing Good Creativity

Thoreau, Nietzsche and many other creative types have claimed that walking gives wings to the imagination. Last year, psychologists gave this empirical support. Walking, either on a treadmill or around Stanford’s leafy campus, bolstered divergent thinking: the free-roaming, idea-generating component of creative thought. It didn’t help convergent thinking, though. So, if you’re struggling to home in on a single solution, an idle stroll may not be what you need.

Reducing Cognitive Decline

The evidence that staying physically fit keeps your brain healthy into old age is especially compelling. Most concrete is the link between aerobic fitness and cognitive preservation. Workouts needn’t be extreme either: 30-45 minutes of brisk walking, three times a week, can help fend off the mental wear and tear and delay the onset of dementia. It pays to get used to regular exercise early, though. The protective effects are clearest before the cognitive signs of old age kick in.

Don’t Just Remain Still

Now the cognitive spillover that you get from exercising is important for your brain. This will easily make your mind as well as body healthy. Frankly, if you are planning on sitting all day, then it is dangerous. So, it is important that you continue to be active. Find exercises that you enjoy.

It is common to hear people talk a lot about exercising and staying healthy. Sometimes you might have heard the sentence ‘your brain is like the muscle’. Of course, this kind of comparison will support the brain industry and can keep millions of people globally to sit at their desk, do math problems, write essays, etc. Kind of obnoxious. But it is true.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.

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