Simple Exercises Can Sharpen Your Brain

Jan 25, 2016: Scientists believe working out your brain — just like you would your body to keep in shape — could ward off the dulling of mental faculties and strengthen connections between newly-generated brain cells, which people make throughout life. A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you’re a student studying for final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay mentally sharp, or a senior looking to preserve and enhance your grey matter as you age, there are lots of things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance.

We all know that regular exercise is a major player in our ability to achieve a healthy weight, a longer life expectancy and a reduced risk of chronic diseases from cancers to heart disease to diabetes.Logging miles on the treadmill can give you a trim body, but adding more cardio to your life will also ratchet up your smarts, boost your productivity, rev your energy, and turn you into an unstoppable success machine. Even one 30-minute cardio session pumps extra blood to your brain, delivering the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at max efficiency.

Cardio also floods the brain with chemicals that enhance functions such as memory, problem solving, and decision making. And new research has found that this kind of exercise may even cause permanent structural changes to the brain itself. A pulse-pounding workout acts like a cup of coffee ,Your heartbeat picks up, your circulation increases, you’re filled with energy, and your thinking becomes clearer and sharper. Use this cardio-induced clarity to your advantage by timing your daily sweat sometime before you punch the clock, on your lunch break, or prior to a demanding task .

A study in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory found that people learned vocabulary words 20 percent faster after intense exercise than after low-intensity activity. Those who did more-demanding exercise had a bigger spike in their brains’ levels of BDNF, dopamine, and epinephrine afterward. So the more you challenge your body, the more your gray matter benefits.

Preliminary research presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience found that when the brains of rats were studied after the rodents had been subjected to stress (made to swim in cold water), those that had been allowed to run beforehand reacted less to the stress than those that hadn’t. In the critters at least, the new brain cells created by exercise appeared to help them resist stress.

Treating your body well can enhance your ability to process and recall information. Physical exercise increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise may also enhance the effects of helpful brain chemicals and protect brain cells.

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