Exercising regularly is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your brain. Anybody who has run for an hour, played any physical game, performed suryanamaskar, or twisted their body in various asanas would experience an intensified breathing rate and increase in their heart rate which in turn results in pumping more oxygenated blood to various parts of the body including the brain, thus would witness an immediate boost in energy and alertness. It is not a surprise that movement and brain function are connected.
The hippocampus – a part of the limbic system in the brain is related to memory, emotion regulation, and information processing. Previous research has shown that exercise promotes brain health by releasing hormones like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) from the muscles that encourages the growth of new brain cells. Hippocampus is adaptable and has the ability of new cell growth throughout our lifetime. Regular exercise enlarges the hippocampus by 1 or 2 percent every year.
In one study it has been found that just 20 minutes of leg exercise can enhance long term memory by 10 percent. It also improves cognitive functioning as we grow old. It prevents the detrimental effects of aging. Exercise not only improves memory and cognition, but it also dispels depression more effectively than anti-depressants. Exercise promotes mental health by balancing serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA.
Physical activity also increases creativity in the brain. Exercise reduces blood pressure, prevents obesity, and thus reduces the risk of heart attack, strokes, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer.
Before choosing an exercise programme you must consider following factors:
1. Your current physical health
2. An exercise tolerance
3. Your interest
4. Your budget
5. Your comfort zone
Choose exercise routine you can enjoy and can stick to it, include some aerobic exercises such as running, jogging, and swimming. You can also include strength training exercises such as weights, adding some mind-body training activities such as suryanamaskar, asanas, or tai chi. So that you can have a perfect brain combination for better cognitive health.
Now if you know how movement affects the most important organ of your mental health, you would probably make an effort to exercise. Still, if you do not want to leave your comfort zone when it comes to a fitness regime then it is time for you to meet Mann Kaur, 101-years old lady from Chandigarh who will definitely inspire you for a lifetime to gear up your fitness cells.
It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.― Steve Maraboli