Many people may be well aware of the fact that exercise offers a wealth of wonderful benefits when it comes to physical fitness. Regular exercise helps regulate weight, builds muscle tone, and helps with the function of almost every major organ. Exercise has been shown to regulate hormones and to greatly decrease the odds of a number of serious diseases.
Did you know, however, that exercise also plays a major role in keeping your mind fit as a fiddle? It’s true! Physicians and psychologists almost universally agree that one of the factors to strong mental health and intelligence is regular exercise.
The Brain Benefits of Regular Exercise
You do not have to be a professional athlete to reap the benefits of exercise on your brain. In fact, it can take as little as three or four thirty minute cardio workouts a week for your brain to begin to benefit from what exercise has to offer. The benefits are indeed many. Regular exercise has been shown, for example, to increase your total energy levels.
This may seem somewhat counterintuitive that exerting energy actually only gives you more energy, but when you exercise, you help the synapses in your brain to connect better. You also release stabilizing hormones into your brain which help with feelings of alertness and well being. People who exercise experience much higher levels of focus and are able to retain much more information than their stagnant counterparts.
In addition to helping with mood regulation, energy, and focus, exercise actually helps with cognitive functioning. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly perform better on test of logic and reasoning than those with similar IQs who do not exercise at all.
Cardiovascular Activity Changes the Way the Brain is Structured
The benefits of a regular exercise routine go way beyond the immediate future. Recent research suggests that steady levels of cardio actually change the way your brain is structured. This means that one of the best ways to preserve mental functioning and to avoid problems like memory loss and even dementia in older age is to begin a habit of regular physical activity as early in life as possible.
Many doctors agree that the more regularly a person is physically active, the greater their chances are for brain health later in life. Even those who have never exercised on a regular basis can see drastic changes in their cognitive functioning in very little time.
The Science Behind How Cardio Affects Your Brain
The reason scientists and medical professionals know for certain that cardio yields major brain benefits is that the way your body reacts to cardio clearly helps your brain. When you engage in cardio exercise, the extra blood that is pumping helps coat your brain’s cells in oxygen and glucose, which are essentially brain food, because brain cells need oxygen and glucose to perform.
In addition to the nourishing levels of oxygen and glucose that your brain receives, you also get beneficial effects from the moving of your muscles, which, of course, is an integral part of any cardio activity. As your muscles move, they release a number of hormones up to your brain. Once in your brain, these hormones join with a substance in your brain called BDNF.
This substance has many benefits and is related to mood regulation, thought processing, and the generation of new brain cells. The more BDNF that is present, the better your brain is equipped to make decisions or to help your thoughts and reasoning skills develop. Exercise is truly an indispensable activity for anyone who wants to have a happy heart, brain, and life.