We all are aware of the physical benefits of exercising – losing excess weight, muscle gain, lessened risk of cardiovascular disease, etc. You are most likely also aware of the ‘feel good’ chemicals (known as endorphins) that flow through your body when you get your sweat on. However, you may be unaware of the multiple benefits physical activity has on the brain, and how these can help improve your functioning in everyday life.
Research is now showing us how exercise can help improve our cognitive functioning. No matter your age, exercise helps to mold the brain into a better thinking machine, in more ways than one.
Regular aerobic activity halts the age-related loss of brain tissue and improves higher order thinking (such as decision making). People who are more active have an increased ability to concentrate and can process information at a faster rate than those who are inactive. These benefits are said to arise due to the chemicals released in the brain during and after exercise, which improve efficiency of molecular processes.
Aerobic exercise has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus in the brain, an area associated with memory. This is because of increased neural plasticity in individuals who get their sweat on. This is the brain’s ability to grow new connections, leading to better outcomes in learning situations.
Getting in early can also improve circumstances later on in life. Being physically active at a young age preserves thinking and memory skills. Individuals aged 43-55 have better verbal memory, psychomotor speed (ability to coordinate thinking and movement), and executive function (decision making) when they were physically active 25 years prior.
Additionally, studies show those who exercise regularly have a lower risk of dementia overall. This included participants who began exercising during their middle-age years, proving it’s never too late to start!
Exercising is about more than just getting rid of that extra fat, it helps to tackle well-being from several angles.
Join us at Funlife Fitness Centre today to really start improving your quality of life.
Bergland, C. (2014). Physical Activity Improves Cognitive Function. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201404/physical-activity-improves-cognitive-function [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].
Gomez-Pinilla, F., & Hillman, C. (2013). The Influence of Exercise on Cognitive Abilities. Comprehensive Physiology, 3(1), 403–428. http://doi.org/10.1002/cphy.c110063
Hogan, C. L., Mata, J., & Carstensen, L. L. (2013). Exercise Holds Immediate Benefits for Affect and Cognition in Younger and Older Adults. Psychology and Aging, 28(2), 587–594. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0032634
Bergland, C. (2014). Scientists Discover Why Exercise Makes You Smarter. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/scientists-discover-why-exercise-makes-you-smarter [Accessed 9 Mar. 2018].