Our brains are SO important! They’re our computers, our driving force…they operate our bodies for us. They do things we don’t even have to think about so we can live our lives to the fullest. Just like the rest of our body, taking care of them is essential to live our happiest, most fulfilling lives. Everyone already knows that a good diet and regular activity keep our bodies healthy. While the obvious physical effects of living a sedentary lifestyle are more visible, it’s important to note that physical activity and brain health also go hand in hand. While many neurological disorders affect motor skills and may make heavy aerobic exercise dangerous or difficult, weight exercises and fitness training affect the brain in monumental ways, too. No matter your level of ability, size, weight, or age, the reasons why your brain needs exercise are endless.
Physical Activity and Brain Health – How Exercise Affects Your Brain
In a study done by sports medicine researchers, it was found that regular exercise, most notably aerobic activity, the kind that gets your heart rate up and your sweat flowing, appears to increase hippocampal volume. So what does the hippocampus do? The hippocampus is an important part of the limbic system, the region of the brain that regulates motivation, memory, learning, and emotion. The hippocampus is the first area of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s and has links to other dementia disorders. In another more recent study done by scientists and other medical researchers, it was proven that physical activity not only helps slow degenerative pathologies in the brain but it can also delay brain aging.
2019 Game Plan for Your Health – Brain Health: Don’t Just Survive, Thrive!
Directly, physical activity helps the body in a multitude of ways. By staying active we’re keeping the body’s various systems working correctly. Toning muscles, making our cardiovascular system work at full capacity, reducing inflammation, decreasing insulin resistance – these are just a few of the amazing things our bodies heal and help grow when they get proper stimulation and nutrition. Less commonly understood is how physical activity can help us cognitively – by stimulating the brain and eliciting growth and healing neurologically. In a study from early 2019, almost 500 adults gave their brains to science; by allowing researchers to collect data over the course of 20 years and later analyze their brain, researchers learned higher activity was related to a significant decrease in risk for dementia.
How Much Exercise is Enough?
The medical and scientific communities have arrived at common ground when it comes to quantity and quality of physical activity in relation to the brain and other health benefits. To help see the benefits of exercise on the brain, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise is needed each week. That means with a consistent routine, healthy brain cell growth and the preservation of existing brain cells is yours for the taking. It can also help strengthen the cerebral cortex, improve nerve function, and help with neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to adapt and create new neural connections.