Workout Your Brain: How Exercise Boosts Mental Fitness
Long understood to improve physical health, it’s becoming increasingly clear how significant an impact exercise has on our cognitive abilities and overall brain health. Read on and explore with us the top benefits of regular movement for brain health and performance.
Improved Cognitive Function
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to brain cells. In turn this promotes the growth of new neural connections, which enhances cognitive function as well as reduces the risk of cognitive decline and degenerative diseases. More noticeably, this translates into improved memory, attention, and processing speed.
Less stress, brighter mood
Stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on brain health and performance. Physical activity suppresses these feelings as the brain releases endorphins into the bloodstream. Mood-boosting chemicals like these are released in response to the physical stress of continuous exercise. It's the endorphin release that helps you work through the discomfort of pushing your body’s fitness. Their release makes you feel energised, or even euphoric - ever heard of runner’s high? Additionally, exercise improves the body's ability to handle stress by reducing cortisol levels, a stress hormone most of us could use less of.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain's ability to change and adapt in response to experiences. It is a crucial aspect of brain function and has been linked to improvements in cognitive abilities such as memory and attention. Physical activity supports neuroplasticity by promoting the production of important proteins that are foundational to the survival and growth of neurons. Regular exercise also promotes increased blood flow to the brain, further supporting the growth of new neurons and neuroplasticity.
Inflammation is a natural immune response that occurs in our bodies when we encounter harmful substances, stress or injury in the body. Exercise stimulates the production of anti-inflammatory proteins called cytokines, which help to counteract harmful effects of inflammation such as cognitive decline. Studies have also shown that exercise can improve the blood-brain barrier's function, which acts as a protective layer for the brain, preventing harmful substances from entering it.
Regular exercise is a powerful tool for enhancing brain health and performance. From improved neuroplasticity to a brighter state of mind, the benefits of movement are attributed to the body's ability to increase blood flow and oxygenation to the brain. Overall, the evidence strongly supports the notion that exercise is good for cognitive health and performance, and incorporating it into your daily routine will lead to a happier, healthier brain.