The brain is complex and we often think of it as the part of the body that is just too complex to understand. However, you don’t need to be a neurologist to understand that your brain is just like any other muscle in the body. If you don’t exercise it regularly then it won’t work as effectively.
You look after your body by visiting the gym or exercising regularly, just like you can exercise your brain to increase connections. As it turns out, exercise, which helps the body and overall physical health it might just be one of the most effective ways to obtain focus and mental clarity.
Yes, studies from the University of Georgia discovered that just 20 minutes of exercise is enough to improve your memory and your brain’s ability to process information.
The Health Benefits Of Exercise
There is more than one way in which exercise can affect your brain. Not only does it increase how much oxygen is pumped to your brain, but it also triggers the release of a variety of hormones, which creates a healthy environment for your brain to grow cells. To stimulate plasticity your brain needs to fire new connections and exercise can help do that.
According to the University of California, Los Angeles, has completed research which found that exercise makes it much easier for your brain to create new neuron connections.
What does that mean? In short, the runner’s high that we talk about also comes with a dip in cortisol levels. We know it provides a boost to mood and energy levels, but it also increases the growth of cells in the hippocampus, which just happens to be the region of the brain that improves memory and learning.
So, indulging in physical exercise is just as beneficial to your brain as it is to your body. There are differences, though, in the type of exercise which is most effective for the brain. For example, cycling appears to be more helpful than running and exercises that require both mental and physical demands are also helpful (think dance classes).
Choosing The Right Exercise
Want to choose the perfect physical exercise to boost your brain? Here are some tips.
- If an exercise is particularly good for your heart, then it is good for your brain.
- Aerobics are great for your body and even better for your brain.
- The best time of day to exercise is in the morning. It will prepare you for the day ahead and provide you with a brain ready to absorb information.
- Ideally, you will choose exercises that combine coordination and cardio – the perfect type of class for this is dancing.
- Circuit workouts are a great solution, not only do they require plenty of attention, but they provide a quick spike in your heart rate, too.
- If you find yourself stuck in a mental fog, then you can get up and move around – jumping jacks are an easy quick exercise to clear your brain.
We may not have a full understanding of why it is that our brains have evolved to experience such a boost from a workout, but we know that when our ancestors were getting their exercise it was likely because they were running in the opposite direction of a predator (or in the direction of food).
A bit like we still face that fight or flight syndrome even though we are rarely faced with the stress of life-threatening situations. What we do know is that exercise improves your brain power and might be exactly what you need to shake off your latest funk.