This is what EXERCISE does to your BRAIN
We all know the effects exercise has on the body – from weight loss and muscle gain to better cardiopulmonary efficiency, exercise is the best medicine for many issues. However, did you know that the benefits don’t just end here, the benefits to your brain are numerous! Here are some of the most inspiring reasons to get moving for your brain:
1. Exercise can promote better memory.
Recent research has shown that people who are more physically active tend to have increased volume in the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain that is responsible for memory. This study explains that walking can help promote neural plasticity in the brain – or help to generate new neurons and synapses. How cool is that?!
2. Exercise can decrease stress and depression.
Although the pathways that through which this occurs are still largely unknown, it is well established in the literature that exercise can help to decrease the symptoms of depression. Exercise releases endorphins which are chemicals that naturally decrease pain and boost mood. Exercise can also help to manage stress as it helps to mediate the cascade of stress hormones and reactions in the body during times of increased stress activity.
3. Exercise can increase creativity.
Movement and exercise can help to increase brain activity – meaning there are more creative juices flowing. A short bout of exercise can help to light up many centres of the brain that would not have been accessed with quiet sitting. More brain activity can mean more creativity sparked. Walking is one of the best methods to promote creativity.
4. Exercise can prevent cognitive decline.
An unfortunate part of aging can be cognitive decline. Twice weekly resistance training is enough to decrease these effects and benefit the brain’s executive functioning and improve selective attention. Another study found that aerobic exercise helps to prevent the age related loss of brain tissue and helps to improve imformation processing.
5. Exercise can improve self esteem.
It has been found that people are who more active tend to have better self esteem. This survey reports that individuals that exercise more feel better about their physical appearance. The mechanisms behind this aren’t 100% certain, but we all know it feels pretty good to finish a workout!
The literature tends to debate a lot about how much and what type of exercise is needed to affect change in the body, however a good rule of thumb is to follow the ACSM exercise guidelines which recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise spread out over multple days per week.
Just some more reasons to get moving today!