Exercise to boost your brain health
Exercise is not only important for your physical health, but it also helps your brain to stay sharp. Think of physical exercise as an anti-ageing antidote for the brain.
Your brain is just like your muscles; you either use it or lose it. Exercise helps to increase the growth of muscle cells via cell signalling, just like how one can learn a new language and get better at it from the growth of brain cells/making new connections. In this case, you can get protective brain effects from just simply going to the gym for a workout.
The benefits of exercise (both resistance training and cardiovascular) result in multiple protective effects from the cellular level to the behavioural level. Research by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia has shown that a brief 20-minute workout improves the brains information processing and memory centre.
How does it work?
Exercise increases heart rate and blood flow, thus increasing oxygen supply to the brain. This releases a cascade of hormones, which are involved in promoting the growth of new brain cells. Exercise has been found to be protective against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
In this way, exercise also helps to improve thinking and memory. The advantages of exercise stems from its ability to protect against insulin resistance, reduce inflammation in your body, and increase the release of growth factors. Growth factors are described as “chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.”
Additionally, some of the by-products of all these cellular processes is that exercise improves mood and sleep, it also reduces stress and anxiety. Often, issues in these areas play a major role in contributing to cognitive impairment problems such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The consensus of studies have suggested brain regions which control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) are a larger size in people who exercise versus people 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”.
Therefore, there are a multitude of benefits to having an active lifestyle. To summarise, the major benefits include minimising/reducing your risk of getting heart disease, stroke, dementia, alzheimers and diabetes. Lastly, exercise helps to prevent those of us that suffer brain fog: exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.
So, there you go, all the reasons to get you exercising! If you are unsure of how to start exercising safely or you have an injury, you can trust our world class physiotherapists here who will help get back on track. Book in today with a Habit physiotherapist and let’s get you started on your healthier lifestyle!
Ruby Chen is a physiotherapist at Habit Vero