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“A feeble body weakens the mind .” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Exercise: The Ultimate Brain Booster:
Working out doesn’t only tone your body. It also strengthens your brain.
Even a single 30-minute session of stationary biking significantly improved memory in healthy older adults aged 55 to 85, according to a 2019 study.
On top of that, MRI scans proved that the participants brains were more active after exercise compared with the control group of people who had rested.
This adds to a growing body of research demonstrating that regular aerobic exercise boosts brain function. It actually reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by 45 percent, according to Alzheimer’s Society.
“In the short term, aerobic exercise can also improve the performance of healthy adults on thinking tests,” the group reports. “Pulling together the results of 29 clinical trials, a month or more of regular aerobic exercise resulted in improvements in memory, attention, and processing speed when compared with regular non-aerobic exercise such as stretching and toning.”
Human brains begin a slow, steady loss of nerve tissue beginning in the third decade of life, but working out slows that erosion.
In fact, active older adults were found to have denser brains than their couch-potato counterparts, according to research reported in Psychology Today.
The exercisers were also better at cognitive tests. And they didn’t even have to break a sweat — even a brisk 45-minute walk three days a week made a positive difference in brain function.
Young athletes can also expect to handle complex cognitive tasks better than their sedentary brethren, researchers say.
Another study followed three groups of elderly women with brain lesions who did light weight training once a week, twice a week or not at all.
At the end of a year, scans revealed less brain shrinkage in the women who had trained twice a week. In addition, their lesions had grown far less than the other two groups.
Running doubles or triples the number of brain cells in lab rats and creates more tendrils in their neural communications network, according to a report in The New York Times.
“These young cells were better integrated into the overall brain circuitry, too, with more connections into portions of the brain involved in spatial and other types of memory,” the article noted.
Yet another smart reason to come to PZF for your fabulous fitness regime. Toning your bod sharpens your brain, too.
With that said, here are 5 mental benefits of exercise! 👊
Exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster, decreasing symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Physical activity kicks up endorphin levels, the body’s famous “feel good” chemical produced by the brain and spinal cord that produces feelings of happiness and euphoria. Even just moderate exercise throughout the week can improve depression and anxiety, so much so that some doctors recommend trying out an exercise regimen for these conditions before turning to medication.
Another mental benefit of exercise is reduced stress levels—something that can make us all happier. Increasing your heart rate can actually reverse stress-induced brain damage by stimulating the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, which not only improve cognition and mood but improve thinking clouded by stressful events. Exercise also forces the body’s central and sympathetic nervous systems to communicate with one another, improving the body’s overall ability to respond to stress.
From improving endurance to losing weight and increasing muscle tone, there’s no shortage of physical achievements that come about from regular exercise. All those achievements can all add up to a whopping boost of self-esteem—and the confidence that comes with it. You may not set out for better-fitting clothes, a slimmer physique, and the ability to climb a hill without getting winded. Oftentimes it happens before you even realize it. It’s just one of the many benefits of physical activity that boost your body, mind, and spirit.
If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, exercise can help with that, too. Physical activity increases body temperature, which can have calming effects on the mind, leading to less sheep counting and more shuteye. Exercise also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, our bodies’ built-in alarm clock that controls when we feel tired and when we feel alert. (Although improved sleep is a psychological benefit of exercise, sleep experts recommend not exercising close to bedtime.)
From building intelligence to strengthening memory, exercise boosts brainpower in a number of ways. Studies on mice and humans indicate that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells—a process called neurogenesis—and improve overall brain performance. It also prevents cognitive decline and memory loss by strengthening the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Studies also prove that physical activity boosts creativity and mental energy. So if you’re in need of inspiration, your big idea could be just a walk or jog away.
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