Your Brain Wants You To Take A Walk
Exercise does more than get your body in shape. It also keeps your brain healthy and your mind working better.
You know about the physical benefits of exercise. Working out improves strength, balance and stamina. You look and feel better. You can work and play without pain or injury.
Now, research tells us regular exercise can also improve memory, learning and thinking and help manage depression and anxiety. Recent studies from the NIH, NCBI and others report that several regions of the brain get a boost every time you do that workout, and these benefits only get better as you keep doing it. Regular exercise changes your brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.
And here’s the good news. You don’t have to become a full time workout buff. You can see improvements with even small amounts of exercise. Thirty minutes or so of moderate exercise, three times a week can provide significant benefits for brain and body.
Exercise increases blood flow, which helps your body better process oxygen and sugars. Increased blood flow, more oxygen and fuel are all good for the brain. A healthier brain learns and remembers better and improves decision-making. Nerves and blood vessels increase and become stronger. The hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with learning, memory and language grow bigger and stronger.
Exercise releases chemicals in the brain, including endorphins, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These chemicals increase the feeling of well-being and have been found effective in combating stress, anxiety and depression.
Exercise increases levels of brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, BDNF helps repair and preserve neurons in the brain and may play a role in regulating stress and mood disorders. The study also found BDNF levels are reduced in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease patients.
Exercise can help get sleep patterns back in line and provide better rest. Many people report a more sound sleep after a gym session. Not only are the happy chemicals circulating to cut stress and anxiety, your body temperature rises during exercise. When you cool down later, your body gets the message that it’s sleepy-time. Better sleep improves focus, retention and mental flexibility.
So next time you feel like your brain isn’t keeping up with you, take it for a walk.