Connection Between Exercise and Brain Health
You know that exercise is essential for goals of weight loss, muscle building, and sports performance, but did you know that exercise is also important for your brain health? Let’s take a look at how exercise can help improve cognitive function and overall brain health.
Benefits of Exercise on the Brain
Here are several proven benefits that exercise has on the brain:
Serotonin Production: Let’s jump right into one of the benefits that you’ll experience during your workout: the feeling of the exercise high. As we engage in moderate or high-intensity physical activity, our brains increase the production and release of serotonin. This brain chemical is known as a “feel-good chemical” and is helpful in improving your mood.
Alleviates Stress: Continuing with the point above, have you ever walked into the gym stressed out and left feeling better? Sure, maybe the problem or issue you were upset about is still there, but your attitude and mood are completely different. It’s not a coincidence; exercise helps to alleviate stress and lower levels of catabolic (breakdown) hormones in the body.
Anti-Inflammatory: High levels of inflammation increase pain and the risk of illness. When it comes to our brains, inflammation has been shown to be behind some of the most aggressive cognitive diseases with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s and dementia. Engaging in exercise on a consistent basis has been shown to dramatically decrease inflammation throughout the body, especially the brain.
Better Sleep: Continuing with the idea above, one of the ways that exercise helps to lower inflammation is through regulating and improving our sleep schedules. Often prescribed by doctors for those suffering from insomnia, a regular and healthy exercise program has been shown to improve how long you sleep for and the quality of your sleep. Those who exercise spend more time in the deep sleep cycles, where the body does heavy-duty work of eliminating toxins and reducing inflammation.
Memory Boost: Exercising can improve your memory in two ways: First, exercise helps you sleep and this is when the brain moves information and events from working-memory to long-term memory. Secondly, exercise helps to increase the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports growth as well as memory formation.
How Much Should You Exercise?
Now that you know the benefits of exercise for the brain, you might be wondering just how much physical activity you should do each week. According to the Center for Disease Control, you should be engaging in at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) per week of high intensity exercise.
Do You Notice Any of these Benefits of Exercise?
When you exercise, how do you feel? Do you experience that rush of feel-good chemicals after a workout? How is your sleep when you are exercising consistently? If you want to support your brain health outside of the gym, try using a proven nootropic, or brain-boosting supplement. Let us know how exercise helps you in the comments below!
Written by David Sautter
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.