Exercise and the Brain

How Workouts Enhance Brainpower

Exercise contributes to fitness and overall well-being but did you know that physical activity affects the brain as well? It can actually enhance brainpower. No matter how smart you think you are, everyone could use a brain boost. Being a little sharper and having a better memory never hurt. The thing is, the brain goes beyond sharpness and memory, it controls the entire body. The brain runs the show even when you’re sleeping so it is only wise to keep it in tip-top shape. Below are 5 ways exercise benefits the brain.

Boosts Memory

The exact way physical activity boosts memory is unknown but it is believed that the oxygenation and nutrition provided by the additional blood flow that occurs during exercise are the cause. Regularly creating a nutrition rich environment for the brain allows it to thrive.

Improves Overall Brain Function

BDNF or brain-derived neuropathic factor is a protein directly related to brain function. Intensive exercise, more specifically aerobic exercise done at 60-70% max heart rate (MHR), increases the production of this protein, therefore, improving overall brain function. The key to reaping all the benefits of an increase in BDNF is frequency.

Exercise Promotes Brain Cell Growth

As heart rate gradually increases and more blood is pumped throughout the body, the additional blood carries oxygen to brain cells. The more oxygen delivered to brain cells, the more efficiently they perform. Along with performance, greater oxygenation creates the ideal environment for growth. Flushing the brain with oxygen-rich blood on a regular basis will result in new cell growth.

Increases Productivity

Exercise enhances productivity by increasing energy levels. High energy directly translates to alertness, clarity and focus. This is why physical activity and is recommended both before work and during the work day. For example, you can exercise before heading off to work and get some cardio in during breaks and at lunch. A quick walk or jog will do.

Changes the Way You Handle Stress

Stress happens in your mind. The brain sends the signals that cause the body to react to stress. For most, this response is negative and causes this often overwhelming feeling. Stress is not something we naturally handle well but exercise changes that by rewiring the brain. When presented with a positive stress (exercise) the brain becomes more capable of handling negative stress. This may be a result of new stress-resistant brain cells being developed as a result of regular physical activity.