15 Mar Five reasons why exercise is a no-brainer
We all know that exercise can help keen the body healthy, and let’s face it, most of us keep active to control our waistlines. Yet, what about the brain?
The Mayo Clinic in the USA describes exercise as a preventative method that ‘outweighs medication, intellectual games “brain games”, diet and supplements’ when it comes to brain disease.
“Although there is a lot more research to be carried out, many experts already state that exercise may be the best preventative method to stop the progression of disease,” explains Accredited Exercise Physiologist Alex Lawrence.
“Many people associate exercise with weight loss and good looks, but the benefits run so much deeper.”
Five reasons why exercise is a no-brainer
It can help fight anxiety and depression
Aerobic exercise and weight lifting have been shown to be effective in treating major depression. Studies show that about 60% of people halve their depression score by exercising and more than 40% stay that way for at least three months.
It can reduce your brain shrinking
One observational study that followed more than 600 seniors, starting at age 70, found that those who engaged in the most physical exercise showed the least amount of brain shrinkage over a follow-up period of three years.
It can help build your brain
Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) has been referred to as a fertilizer for your brain. It is a substance that is found in your brain and helps to maintain the life of your brain cells, as well as grow new ones. Even 10 minutes of exercise can help boost your levels of BDNF.
It can make you smarter
Researchers suggest that cognitive improvements associated with exercise are the result of increased blood flow to the brain. The greater the blood flow, the faster oxygen and other important nutrients can reach nerve cells. I.e. the more you move, the more you do!
It can protect your brain in the long run
A 2014 UK study estimated that physical inactivity accounted for 21.8 percent of the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Another study even went as far as to say that just one hour’s exercise a week can reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s disease by almost half.
Over 60% of Australian adults carry out less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day and only one in three children undertook the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity during the day.
“Three out of every five people you know are putting their health, both physical and mental, at risk each day. Exercise Right are constantly asking why people aren’t moving and most times the answer is a lack of time or motivation, will the idea of losing your brain function encourage you to move more?”
“Many people associate exercise with weight loss and good looks, but the benefits run so much deeper. By being active five times a week you could improve many aspects of your overall health, including mental health, and reduce your risk of many chronic diseases and conditions,” explains Alex.
Exercise Right’s Top Tips for Choosing The Right Physical Exercise For Your Brain
- In general, any exercise that is good for your heart and body is great for your brain.
- Aerobic exercise is great for body and brain, not only does it improve brain function, but it also acts as a “first aid kit” on damaged brain cells.
- Exercising in the morning before going to work not only spikes brain activity and prepares you for mental stresses for the rest of the day, but also produces increases retention of new information, and better reaction to complex situations.
- When looking to change up your work out, look for an activity that incorporates coordination along with cardiovascular exercise, such as a dance class or sport.
- If you like time at the gym alone, opt for circuit work outs, which both quickly spike your heart rate, but also constantly redirect your attention.
- If you do have any concerns about your health or live with a condition contact your local accredited exercise physiologist.
The Lancet Neurology, ‘Potential for primary prevention of Alzheimer’s disease: an analysis of population-based data,’ August 2014