We all know that regular exercise is good for your body, but what about your brain? Research shows that working out is actually great for your brain too! We’ll break down all the sciencey stuff for you in today’s blog post.
The effects of exercise on the brain
Researchers have found that aerobic exercise (like running or cycling) that really gets your heart pumping actually results in brain growth! Hippocampus size is boosted – a main brain area involved in memory and learning. A review of studies also showed that there’s a significant link between exercise and cognitive ability in older people (50+). Like the previous study, they found that aerobic exercise improves cognitive function, but they also found that resistance workouts can improve your brain function and your memory!
That’s not all! Exercise has loads of great effects on your brain. If you’re lacking creativity, exercise can boost it. Go for a run to improve your mental focus, or use it to keep your mental health in check.
So why does this brain-boosting effect matter? It’s great news for the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s. Exercise may slow brain ageing by up to 10 years – reducing symptoms or even onset of both diseases. Around 45 minutes of at least moderately strenuous exercise should do the trick – that’s the minimum amount needed to get those brain benefits.
How exercise has these effects
Why exactly exercise works in this way is up for debate, but there are promising suggestions! One obvious one is blood flow – exercise increases it, so you’ll be pumping more blood up to your brain, delivering nutrients and oxygen. Increased blood flow even helps in creating new brain cells. A study by researchers at New Mexico Highlands University found that the pressure of walking sends waves through arteries, resulting in increased blood flow. Upping that to running, your brain has a seriously improved blood supply!
There’s also a handy little protein hanging around in your body called BDNF – brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Exercise can stimulate the production of this little powerhouse, which in turn repairs your brain cells and even acts as a brain bodyguard, preventing degeneration!
So there you have it – exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the body. Were you aware of exercise’s brain-boosting effects?