Everything from the “runner’s high” to the “yogi’s tranquility” can have profound effects on your brain
In the current era, physical fitness has become an integral part of our life. Every individual once in a day thinks that devoting some time for exercise and physical fitness could reduce stress, lower blood pressure, diabetes and many more adverse health effects. Younger generation has the mindset that having a perfect body is a must to be attractive and to develop personality in these days. The older generation wants to do exercise to avoid various diseases in order to live a healthy life. But lack of exercise has impact on one of the most important organs in the human body, that is ‘brain’. You have probably heard people saying ‘your brain is like a muscle’, but is it true?
Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills
In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers have found that regular aerobic exercise that leads to your heart and sweat glands pumping boosts the size of your hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning did not have the same results as that of aerobic exercise. Researchers say that a new case of dementia is diagnosed every four seconds globally and they estimate that by the year 2050 more than 115 million people will have the disease worldwide.
Exercise and the brain
Exercise helps memory and thinking through direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and stimulate the release of growth factors (chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, growth of new blood vessels in the brain and survival of the new brain cells).
In other words exercise helps in improving mood and sleep, thus reduces anxiety and stress which is the main reason for mental illness. Research have shown that the part of the brain which control thinking and memory are in greater volume in people who exercise versus who don’t. Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. As one example, a recent study found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.
Does Workout Type Matter?
Both types of workout and method of staying fit are important whether or not you experience cognitive benefits. It’s not enough to have low calories to stay thin you still need to exercise. There is a term in medical field in which a person is fit from outside but mentally disturbed from inside called TOFI (Thin Outside Fat Inside). These people are not healthy overall. So, it’s most important to concentrate on the type of exercise you perform if your goal is to maximize your cognitive health. A multi-component routine focused on balance, flexibility, and aerobic fitness is better than focusing on just one type of exercise.
However, any exercise is better for your brain than none at all.
So pick an exercise of your choice! Go walking, running, swimming, hiking or biking whatever you like. Enjoy the fresh air and get in touch with nature. And reap the benefits of exercise both physical and mental.