Surprising Benefits of Exercise
Did you add, “Get more exercise” to your list of New Year’s Resolutions? Most people do. While it’s common knowledge that “exercise is good for you,” and most of us know that it helps keep our bodies healthy, many of us aren’t familiar with the way that exercise affects the brain and contributes to emotional well being. You might be surprised to know how little is needed to give you an improved brain function!
According to a University of Georgia’s Department of Exercise Science study, exercising for only 20 minutes a day can improve both memory and information processing in your brain. Since exercise moves oxygen throughout the body, including the brain, this isn’t terribly surprising. The increase in oxygen “feeds” the brain and the result is improved function. But it gets even better.
Another study, this one performed in Sweden, reveals that exercise has antidepressant effects. Many runners speak of the “runners’ high” they get after a good run. This drop in stress hormones is associated with cell growth in the area of the brain connected to learning and memory, according to the Stockholm study.
What Are The “Best” Exercises for the Brain?
It’s been touted that puzzles and other brainteasers contribute to brain maintenance but, as we’ve seen in the above studies, physical exercise also helps. What kind? Some studies show that the combination of physical and mental activity has a higher impact on brain function than physical or mental exercises alone. Workouts that combine coordination, rhythm and strategy, such as folk or ballroom dancing, skating and running fall into these categories. Suffice it to say, doing something that you enjoy, that gets you moving, will benefit both your body and your brain. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Did you know that Netflix has a huge number of complete exercise routines that you can access for free? Check it out! Step aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi, weight lifting, and more are available for the asking through a simple search.
The Bottom Line
Don’t neglect physical exercise as a way to improve and maintain both your body and brain! Remember that old saying: Use it or Lose it! What exercise plan have you created for yourself to make 2018 your healthiest year?