We all know there are plenty of reasons to exercise. From reducing the risk of heart diseases to aiding in weight loss – exercise and physical well-being have always been linked to each other. Therefore, most of us resort to working out to stay in shape and achieve that perfect body. Here you will get to know how to improve brain power with physical activities.
Physical activities that will help you improve brain power
But did you know that physical exercise also affects your brain positively? Did you know that regular workouts can increase or improve brain power? Well, guess what, just like exercise is crucial for a healthy body, it is also important for a healthy brain.
Scientists have been linking physical activity with mental health for decades and have concluded that brain exercise is beneficial for the brain in multiple ways. In fact, evidence also shows that exercise helps enhance cognitive abilities and slows brain shrinkage.
A recent study by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia concludes that even a brief 20-minute workout can improve memory and the brain’s ability to process information.
Moreover, regular exercise also helps overcome depression. Some health experts claim that it is equally (or more) effective than antidepressants. Exercise increases the “feel good” hormones, like serotonin, in the body which help control mood, reduce stress, and keep feelings of anxiety at bay.
Exercising mainly improve brain power that ultimately reduces the risk of several degenerative diseases in the future.
How does exercise affect brain power?
When a person exercises regularly, the brain releases a chemical called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),which is crucial for the human brain in several ways and thus improve brain power. Most importantly, it helps protect existing brain cells. It also activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons and aids in expanding the brain.
Simply put, BDNF acts like a brain fertilizer and protects neurons in the brain from injury. It also facilitates the learning process. With regular exercise, the BDNF increases and releases more neurons in the hippocampus of the brain – the area that is responsible for verbal memory and learning.
A study conducted at the University of British Columbia concluded that regular aerobic exercises increase the size of the hippocampus which otherwise shrinks in adulthood and can ultimately lead to memory loss, poor concentration, and an increased risk of dementia.
According to experts, the findings have emerged at just the right time when a new case of dementia is being detected every four seconds globally. This means that individuals can reduce the risk of developing the condition later in their life by partaking in physical activities regularly.
Put it to test!
So what should you do?
Start exercising, of course!
Although it is still unclear which type of exercise is the best to improve brain power, most researchers emphasize on walking. However, some are also of the opinion that any exercise that you do for your heart is good for your brain as well. In fact, any form of physical activity that gets your heart pumping will get your brain pumping as well.
Apart from walking, moderate-intensity activities such as swimming, tennis, squash, and even dancing are considered good forms of workout.
Even household activities such as mopping the floor or raking the leaves, or any other household chores that can get your heart racing and break you into a sweat are doable.
In general, anything that is good for your heart is good for your brain and it is not necessary to go all out on an exercise program. Just a moderate workout regularly is enough to avail the benefits in both – your body and mind.
How much exercise is good for the brain?
There is no way you can buy BDNF in a bottle! This is why, to enhance its levels in the body naturally, you have to exercise regularly. Of course, this doesn’t mean you employ all your energy in working out the second you wake up. But 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities, 5 times a day, is considered ideal.
The threshold for brain benefitting from brain exercise seems to be around 70% at most. For men, this means the maximum heart rate should be 220 minus their age and then take 70% of that amount. For example, 70 year old men should workout at 105 beats per minute.
But before taking part in any form of physical exercise, it is important to take into account your physique and assess how much you can endure in one go. For that, your health care practitioner is the best advisor, and we highly recommend you seek their opinion before starting any new exercise program.
How to get started?
Don’t have the motivation for regular physical activity? Try these tips to get started;
- Join a gym
- Invite a friend along for a walk at the nearby park
- Go for dance lessons or any other physical activity you enjoy
- Track your progress everyday
- Go for a run first thing in the morning
Conclusion – Physical activities improve brain power at every age:
Whether young or old – we are all plagued with laziness that has made us unfit and vulnerable to several health problems. Sitting and doing nothing every day (apart from playing with gadgets) is dangerous for health and overall wellbeing.
So, without wasting any more time on choosing which exercises begin with, opt for ones you enjoy the most. And, it doesn’t have to be extra strenuous. If it’s appropriate for your age, health, and requirement, rest assured, you will achieve what you desire in terms of physique and mental health.
And remember, occasional exercise or physical activity is just not enough to reap its benefits. Whatever it is that you decide to do, make sure that you make a commitment and follow it regularly – just like you would to your prescription medication. After all, exercise can prevent the need for medication and that should be motivation enough!
Erica Silva is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.
Find her on Twitter:@ericadsilva1