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Why Fitness is Good for the Brain

When you think of brain exercises, certain puzzles and quizes may come to mind. You might be picturing Sudoku, reading, or even one of those brain game websites. Did you know that time spent in the gym can also be included in this category?

Here at Relive Medical, we prioritize mental health as much as physical health. People normally associate cognitive development with babies and young children. 

However, as you age, the brain never stops producing new cells and forming neural pathways to process new information. Studies show that consistent physical activity can enhance cognition, memory, and mood.

How Exercise Improves Your Mind?

Aerobic fitness (also known as cardio) increases your heart rate and boosts blood flow to the brain. More oxygen goes to your brain, initiating neurogenesis. This process is the stimulation and growth of neurons. They form the “grey matter” in your brain and also control muscle function and information processing, which includes learning and memory.

Neurotrophins are proteins that restore neuron survival and function, which are also shown to increase with exercise. Working out can enhance your mood by producing an increased amount of serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters, including endorphins.

There is quite a heafty amount of research to support improved cognitive function from physical activity across all ages. A recent study showed that physical fitness also improves brain function in young adults by conducting a 2-minute walking test.

The researchers found striking differences between the brains of “fitter” and “less fit” people. Participants who fared better in the walking test had more white matter in their brains. White brain matter is crucial to allow signals to travel much faster between nerve fibers and protect the fibers from injury. This means that exercise is not just for older adults but for all humans, and that consistency is essential to maxize benefit.

How many exercises Do You Need to Improve Cognition?

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity workout for adults per week. According to the Journal of Neurorology Clinical Practice, most physical activity can benefit your brain as long as you exercise a few times a week for at least 52 hours over a course of six months.

As long as you commit and keep staying active – even if it’s just for a little bit of time per day – you should see mental as well as physical improvement.

Take a brisk walk, dance, bike, or even clean your house. Low-intensity activities are better than not being active. If you’re having trouble getting started, check out our latest blog about how to get in the game.

If you need help deciding which exercises are best for you, ReliveMD can help set you up with a personal trainer who can help create a personalized exercise plan for your overall health.

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