28 Oct How Does Exercise Promote Brain Health?
by: Sarah Ohm
We all know the benefits of exercise on your body… but have you ever thought about the impact of exercise on your brain and mental health?
To keep things simple, think of your brain like any other part of your body… if you don’t use it, you lose it, right? You lift heavy weights in the gym to keep your body sharp, just like you can perform brain fitness programs to keep your memory sharp… but there are definitely some benefits of exercising, especially cardiovascular exercise, on the brain specifically.
Getting outside and hitting the pavement (aka running) increases the blood flow everywhere in your body, including your brain. Cardiovascular exercise also releases a large amount of hormones into your blood stream, all of which provide a nourishing environment for brain cells.
An article I came across discussed how “exercise stimulates the brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in a wide array of important cortical areas of the brain”. It also talks about how a study done by UCLA has discovered that exercise increases growth factor in the brain, which makes it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.
Let’s also not forget about “runner’s high”. Running helps reduce stress hormones in the body and helps to release endorphins which make you HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY! This is always good for mental health!
- In general, anything that’s good for your heart is good for your brain.
- Cardiovascular exercise helps repair damaged brain cells.
- Exercising in the morning before work helps improve brain function and helps you to prepare for mental stresses of the day. It helps you retain new information, and helps you react better to complex situations.
- If you’re crunched for time, opt for a circuit workout so it’s quick and gets your heart rate pumping!
- If you’re hitting a mental wall in the middle of the day, do something to get the blood flowing. Go climb a bunch of stairs or do some jumping jacks.. it will wake you up and help you focus for the rest of the day!
Both your body and brain can benefit from regular exercise … but if you’re unsure please check with your doctor before starting a work out routine, better safe than sorry!