5 Ways Exercise Keeps Your Brain Healthy

brain exerYour brain is not just a muscle that requires complex exercises to keep it going. Research indicates that yogis and athletes have healthier brains. That is because the physical exercises boost brain functions and make it perform optimally. Read on to find out how your mind benefits from regular workouts and physical activity.

 

  1. Brain Development

There is low production of new cells, as a person grows older, making the brain shrink. However, physical exercises can prevent shrinkage. Adults who take part in aerobic fitness will experience an increase in brain volume. That means cardio is the perfect medicine for your ageing brain. It keeps it young and healthy. Cardio increases the supply of blood to the brain. Therefore, your mind will have adequate oxygen at all times to keep it active.

 

  1. Good Memory

People who exercise regularly have a healthy brain structure. The hippocampus benefits from physical activity and improvement in cardiovascular fitness. Since the hippocampus is vital in developing the learning and memory systems of the brain, you will have a better memory. Besides, exercise leads to the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, which is responsible for the growth of brain cells. As you age, the production of the chemical reduces, leading to loss of memory. However, regular exercise leads to the release of BDNF, which boosts memory.

 

  1. Improves Your Cognitive Functions

The primary role of the brain is to organise, analyse complex tasks, and think critically. All these functions require concentration and a good memory. Aerobic exercise boosts focus and helps you stay on the task. A person who is physically fit can multitask efficiently, focus, and store information in their brains. Jogging or walking also develops your imagination and creativity. So if you cannot find a solution to a problem when sitting at home. Try walking or going to the gym.

 

There is a strong link between aerobic exercises and low cognitive decline. That is why many adults who work out are less likely to suffer from dementia. The regular physical activity fends off wear and tear of brain cells. Increased cognitive functions are attributed to the high supply of oxygenated blood to the brain and production of growth hormones.

 

  1. Boost Your Mental Health

The increased physical activity ensures your brain is active and keeps you in a good mood. It also reduces stress levels. When a person is anxious, they are tense and their heart races shifting the brain to a fight or flight mode. However, with relaxation exercises like yoga, you can control your breathing and relax your brain activity. Chiropractic care can also improve the health of your brain and spine. You can find a chiropractor in Perth who can help you get a healthy spine and lower back pains by correcting misalignments in the spine.

 

  1. Lowers Stress Levels

We all know exercise relieves stress and anxiety by boosting your mood. Depression reduces your ability to focus or process complex information. In extreme cases, depression leads to serious memory problems. Instead of taking anti-depressants, a workout session will elevate your mood and fight off anxiety. Physical activity cranks up the production of endorphins that will make you feel good.

FebFast – Make this month matter!

brainTake a break from alcohol, sugar, caffeine and digital overload this month because you deserve to give your brain health a kick start.

Food substances and brain health

Many people find it surprising that what you eat can actually damage your brain. Have you ever heard someone say: “You are what you eat?” The thing is that it is valid argument and a great part of who you are comes from your brain.  Let’s have a look at the effects that certain food substances has on brain health.

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are made up of many different substances, but the main substance that has the potential of damaging our brains is ethanol. The relaxing and euphoric effects of this psycho-active substance cause people to enjoy such beverages. Short term and long term alcohol use could have drawbacks for your brain health. Your brain cells will potentially degenerate and brain dysfunction is very likely to follow. [1]

Sugar

The sugar (sucrose) we use in our diets is made up of glucose and fructose and in our bodies, our blood glucose levels are regulated by two hormones.

  • Insulin: lowers blood sugar levels
  • Glucagon: raises blood glucose levels

Our bodies have less control over fructose and this is where the trouble starts. If our blood glucose levels are in excess, the glucose is changed into glycogen which is a storage form of glucose in the muscles and the liver and from there it may even be converted into fat, again for storage.

Fructose however, can be directly converted into fat and this may cause damage at any particular site. Also, if you eat too much sugar for too long, your body may become resistant to insulin and your brain health could be in severe jeopardy. [2]

Why do our brains need rest?

Sleep plays a major role in brain health and sleep disruption has an impact on cognitive functioning and brain recovery. It is of cardinal importance that we get some shut-eye during every 24 hour (or circadian) cycle.

Sleep disruption after traumatic brain injuries range from metabolic disturbances and compromised blood brain barrier (BBB) to brain cell degeneration and it may also have an impact on neuroplasticity.

Experts advise at least 6-7 hours of sleep per night and they believe that proper sleeping habits may postpone or slow down the onset of neuropsychiatric, neuro-traumatic and neurodegenerative disorders. [3][4]

To summarise

It is highly advisable to give your brain the treatment it so desperately deserves. I mean think about it our brains are basically the computers of our bodies and they are at work 24/7. Listen to your body: stay away from sugar and energy drinks containing caffeine, dim your lights for a while before counting those sheep and try to stick to regular sleeping patterns to support the health of your brain and become a refreshed version of yourself!

References:

  1. Oscar-Berman M, Marinković K. Alcohol: effects on neurobehavioral functions and the brain. Neuropsychology review. 2007 Sep 1;17(3):239-57.
  2. Tomlinson DR, Gardiner NJ. Glucose neurotoxicity. Nature reviews. January 2008; vol. 9: 36-45.
  3. Lucke-Wold BP, Smith KE, Nguyen L, Turner RC, Logsdon AF, Jackson GJ, Huber JD, Rosen CL, Miller DB. Sleep disruption and the sequelae associated with traumatic brain injury. Neuroscience & Bio-behavioural Reviews. 2015 Aug 31;55:68-77.
  4. Farooqui AA. The Effects of Diet, Exercise, and Sleep on Brain Metabolism and Function. Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Neurological Disorders 2014 (pp. 1-42). Springer International Publishing.