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Exercise can change your Brain!

Exercise benefits go beyond weight loss

The benefits of exercise are far more than just losing weight or achieving that “slim body.” Exercise benefits everything from your sleep quality to your energy level, and even your memory. From making you happier to helping you live longer, regular exercise is key to living a healthy, balanced life.

Why do you exercise?

We tend to want to exercise to lose weight, get fitter, decrease stress levels, or just look better. But did you know that exercising can also change the brain in ways that protect our memory and thinking skills?

Regular exercise changes the brain

Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to:

  • Reduce insulin resistance
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Stimulate the release of growth factors—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.

And Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. Amazing huh?

What type of exercise work better?

It doesn’t matter. Studies have shown that the important thing is just to move your body! Scientists say that exercising for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week is already enough to make changes in both your brain and body! This is certainly great news, isn’t it?

Getting your body Moving

So what should you do? Start exercising! Anything from walking, swimming, tennis, dancing to stair climbing, Sometimes even household activities can count as well, such as intense floor mopping, raking leaves, or anything that gets your heart pumping so much that you break out in a light sweat.

Don’t have the discipline to do it on your own? Try any or all of these ideas:

  • Join a class or work out with someone who’ll hold you accountable.
  • Set a goal and track your progress, this will help keep your motivation up
  • If you’re able,  hire a personal trainer. (Paying an expert is good motivation.)

Whatever exercise and motivators you choose, commit to establishing exercise as a habit.  Movement is the best medicine, this should be on the top of anyone’s list of reasons to work out!

Watch this amazing video by Wendy Suzuki on “The brain-changing benefits of exercise”

 

 

By Renata Malinauskas 

Dietitian, Personal Trainer, Psychossomatic Therapist.

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