Train Your Brain In August: With exercise
All month we will explore the brain. Specifically, we’ll walk you through the methods for training your brain to be stronger, smarter, and faster!
In my former life as a neuroscientist, I recorded brain cells to understand how the nervous system controlls behavior. I have this memory of speaking with some of the physicians at the time, saying that I thought exercise should provide strong positive benefits for brain health.
“What’s your evidence,” I was asked? Well, kinda common sense really. It’s associated with better blood flow in other parts of the body, and healthier arteries as well, and both of those things should benefit the health and therefore performance of neurons.
This conversation didn’t go well for me though because at the time there was just no research support for the idea. It was just a guess that seemed like it should be true.
Fast forward to today, and a great deal of research has been generated since that time showing the relationship between regular activity and measures of a healthy brain. It is associated with slower age-related cognitive decline, a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, and reduced risk for the arterial problems that lead to stroke, including cerebral stroke.
In fact, both aerobic and strength training exercises lead the brain to release neurohormones that have positive effects on brain health. These chemicals improve the health of brain cells, encourage the growth of new blood vessels, and increase the longevity of new brain cells when they are formed. Exercise also improves cognition by reducing insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and by releasing “growth factors”.
The key is to focus on activities you love doing. When you enjoy what you are doing, you will stick with them longer!