Exercise and Brain Health

It’s always good to stay physically active. By constantly doing physical exercises you reduce the risks of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. They are very useful for when you want to get rid of the extra weight, lower your blood pressure, avoid depression or just keep in shape. Another great benefit of exercising is that it can protect your memory and thinking skills as you age.

A study done by researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered that regular aerobic exercises that force your body can increase the size of the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that deals with verbal memory and learning. Other exercises such as resistance training, balance and muscle toning had negative results.

The result of the research are more than helpful given the fact that a new case of dementia is registered ever four seconds globally, according to researchers. According to them, the number of people suffering from dementia could reach 115 million by the year 2050.

How Does Exercising Help?

Exercising can improve both thinking and memory in direct and indirect ways. By exercising, your brain gains various health benefits due to the fact that it reduces insulin resistance, reduces inflammation and at the same time it stimulates the release of chemicals that improve the health of brain cells.

Exercising affects the brain indirectly by improving mood and sleep, while at the same time it reduces stress and anxiety. This type of problems can lead to cognitive impairment.

According to several studies, the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal cortex, which are the parts of the brain responsible for thinking and memory, are bigger in people who exercise. Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, stated that by doing regular exercises of moderate intensity for a longer period of time can increase the volume of the two regions of the brain.

What to Do Next?

Taking into consideration this information, the next step would be to start exercising. Although it is uncertain what type of exercising is best, most of the studies indicate that walking is one of the best exercises that you can do for your brain.

When it comes to the amount of time you need to spend exercising the general recommendation is that you spend at least half an hour doing moderate physical activity for most days of the week. You can start by doing a few minutes of exercises each day and gradually increase the amount.

If you consider that walking is not suited for you, there are other options such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash or dancing. Even weekly household activities count as physical exercising. The most important thing you need to do is commit to establishing exercise as a habit.



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