Some of my other recent posts discuss general healing and feeling good topics such as How We Feel Affects How We Feel and also get more specific, such as Alternatives to Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Today I want to talk more about physical exercise and how it can make your brain work better – in addition to all of the other health benefits that come along with physical activity.
How Does Physical Exercise Make My Brain Work Better?
Ironic as it may seem, physical exercise is one of the most important things you can do to improve your brain function.
When you exercise you can increase your heart rate to as much as 3 times your resting heart rate. Since the brain receives about 15-20% of your heart’s output of blood, the more blood your heart pumps, the more blood will go to your brain. When you exercise, your heart pumps more blood faster. As a result of your heart pumping harder and faster, your brain gets more blood, hence more oxygen and nutrients. This is similar to a farmer producing better crops by irrigating them and adding fertilizer. So too, additional blood fortifies the brain, feeds it and fuels it.
The Impact of Even Low Intensity Exercise on Brain Function
The significance of the impact of even low intensity exercise on brain function was proven in 2005 in an article published in the American Journal of Public Health. It concluded:
“Participants reporting a low level of physical activity at baseline (phase 1) were significantly more likely to have cognitive test scores in the lowest quintile after adjustment for age and gender [Am J Public Health, 2005; 95(12):2252-2258].”
Why Does Exercise Help Brain Function?
There are many reasons why exercise helps brain function. Whether it is due to increased circulation, lowering of Cortisol (a stress hormone), decrease of stress, increase of the body’s natural anabolic hormones, lowering of insulin, stabilizing blood sugar, change of pace, endorphins or just the joy of doing it (or finishing it) – exercise works! Exercise improves not only brain function but the function of every organ of the body.
Any Exercise Will Do
The kind of exercise you choose doesn’t really matter, just keep in mind these 3 guidelines:
- Safety. Competition can be fun but it can also be dangerous. Remember, it is only a game. The goal is to get exercise and have fun. Take time to warm up, stay hydrated and take your vitamins.
- Intensity. You need to be sweating a bit and get short of breath. Push yourself a little bit, just enough to get a little winded and a little sweaty. Keep it up for 15-20 minutes a day and you’re done! You will be amazed at how quickly you will begin to feel better and think better.
- Rest and hydration. Never play sports when you are tired or thirsty. Fatigue and dehydration are the 2 most common causes of all injuries. In addition, exercise without rest and water has less benefit than when you are rested and hydrated. You need enough sleep to awaken refreshed and enough water so that your urine is clear.
Some Ideas to Get Active and Get Moving
For example: Walk briskly at least 20 minutes a day. In that time the average man should be able to walk a mile and a half and the average woman, about a mile. As you walk more you will easily exceed these expectations.
You may prefer any of the following:
- weight lifting
- martial arts
Whatever it is you do, do it regularly and follow the 3 guidelines above: Safety, Intensity and Rest and Hydration.
Thank you for reading, stay safe, hydrated and active! All the best,