Why Exercise Protects Your Brain’s Health

A woman stretching on a yoga mat

All doctors worldwide will tell you the same thing - if you want your body to function correctly, you need to exercise! Some moderate-intensity workouts or activities, a couple of times a week, is all you need to improve your physical fitness as well as the shape of your body. Moreover, those same workouts a couple of times a week can also improve your mental health and well-being! However, what you may not realize is that every physical exercise protects your brain's health too. And, if you "get your brain moving," you may lower the risk of developing some of the most common brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and many others.

First, Let Us Look at the Research

If you want to understand how and why exercise protects your brain's health, there is no better way than to look at the recent research. Namely, precisely 454 people have agreed to participate in a 20-year-long study that would test their cognitive skills. All they had to do during their lifetime was to exercise regularly. During that time, all the researchers had to do is to track, via accelerometers, how much and how hard those people exercised. The results showed that those who moved their bodies more scored a lot better on thinking and memory tests. Moreover, the research proved that those people had a 31% less chance to develop the previously mentioned brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Reduces Inflammation

Exercising helps us learn to be resilient and gives us the strength to stand up to anything. But did you know that exercising can also help your body stand up to many of the inflammation processes that can happen inside our bodies? As we age, inflammation can occur in all of our organs, including the brain. And, if it progresses, it can affect many of the brain's functions. However, exercise can slow down or even completely stop all the inflammation processes in the human body. These are, of course, great news, but it is essential to mention that "exercising" therapy does not always work, especially in severe cases. Thus, if you want to avoid becoming a severe inflammation case, better start exercising early on - better safe than sorry.

Exercise Improves Blood Flow to the Brain

Even though the human brain is 2% of our entire body mass, it receives 15% of the body's blood supply. So, we can say that the brain is pretty much dependent on blood flow. For our nervous tissues to survive, they need oxygen, and oxygen comes from the blood. The best way to increase the blood flow to the brain is through exercise! Moreover, when the blood flow is improved, one can also decrease the risk of developing hypertension or high blood pressure, which can be life-threatening if not treated.

The good news is that all kinds of exercises, but especially cardio exercise, are excellent for improving the blood flow to the brain and the entire body. The more you move, the better. Cardio training is something you should try as that proved to be the most efficient, but do not beat yourself up if you can do it initially; even the most simple movements like walking or swimming can do the trick.

Exercise Helps with Memory

As we grow older, the brain starts to lose its volume. This results in the shrinkage of specific brain areas often connected with memory. That is why older adults usually have difficulty remembering things. It all starts slowly with small things like forgetting where you placed your keys. Then, sometimes, it grows to more significant problems - to dementia, for instance. But, the brain's volume can be restored! And, you guessed it - it can be restored by exercising! That fact was proven by a researcher who conducted an MRI scan on an older patient. Six months of being active - swimming, walking, going up the stairs, and eating the right foods - significantly improved the patient's brain volume and lowered the risk of memory loss.

It Lowers Levels of Stress Hormones

Stress kills! It can damage all parts of our body and our mind if the stress hormone gets too high. The same applies to the brain - it can be damaged (by stress) in the same way as any other organ in our body. The best way to handle stress in our day-to-day lives is by exercising! When working out, producing the stress hormone is reduced to the minimum while producing other feel-good hormones is increased. Exercising will pump up your endorphins and significantly improve your mood.

So, what are you waiting for? You see how exercise protects your brain’s health and you already know it is very beneficial for your body but also for your mood. So, try to incorporate any kind of exercise during your day. And do what you love; that way, you will not have to force yourself every day nor be tempted to quit sooner than you started. Find an exercising buddy, set a goal, be persistent - your brain will thank you!


Angie Collins, Author

Angie Collins has been working as a personal trainer ever since she has graduated from college. Her major was physical health, and she specialized in working with people with injuries. In her free time, Angie also writes content for her blog about the health and fitness of the body and the soul.

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