When we think of our Brain the first few things that cross our mind are complex, signals, neurons, synapses, complicated words we have already heard in connection to Human Brain…
Our Brain is in fact the most complex structure known to Humankind. Giving into its complexity we usually are ignorant about the ways to keep it healthy and sound.
What if I tell you there are ways to do so ?
Recently, I got very much interested in Neuroscience. I began savoring myself to a lot of academic scripts, articles and videos relating to it. That is when I came across an interesting topic – Building a Better Brain through Exercise. Personally speaking it was indeed a very changing moment for me.
Now I am going to get a little scientific.
Our brain is divided into parts, mainly the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brain-stem. Each part is responsible for unique functions. It is our brain that controls every voluntary and involuntary actions carried out by us.
But, here I am going to enlighten you about two key areas i.e. the prefrontal cortex, located right behind your forehead and the temporal lobes, located right behind your ears.
Your Prefrontal cortex is responsible for all the critical things like decision making, planning, problem-solving, self control and most importantly your personality. The prefrontal cortex is arguably the area that is responsible for some of the most important functions that truly help to make human cognition unique.
While prefrontal cortex is responsible for all the critical things, temporal lobes are responsible for understanding languages and learning and remembering verbal and non-verbal information. It is deep inside your temporal lobes that the structure called hippo-campus is located that is responsible for the formation and retaining of new long-term memories of facts and events.
I get it that I am boring you with all these, but these information are necessary to get further on this topic.
When we talk about exercises it is mostly in connection with weight loss. But, exercise is important not just for weight reduction but for our overall health including that of our brain’s.
The effects of Physical activity on the cerebral networks are plenty. It has abundant beneficial effects on the functions of the brain including the promotion of plasticity (i.e. changes in the brain structure and organization as we experience, learn and adapt) and the enhancement of learning and memory performance.
Simply put together, we are talking about building a better brain through exercise.
Exercise is so powerful that we end up with better mood, better energy, better attention and better memory. Borrowed words from Dr. Wendy Suzuki, Professor, Neuroscience, NYU – “Exercise is the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today … “
Well, here are the reasons backing the statement:
A single workout that you do will increase the levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and nor-adrenaline i.e. in short words improves your mood.
It can improve your ability to shift and focus attention. Studies have shown that a single workout session will improve your reaction time…
According to Dr. Wendy Suzuki, the most common finding in neuroscience studies, looking at effects of long-term exercise, is improved attention function dependent on your prefrontal cortex. You not only get better focus and attention, but the volume of the hippo-campus (as discussed earlier) increases as well. And finally, you not only get immediate effects of mood with exercise but those last for a long time. So you get long-lasting increases in those good mood neurotransmitters.
We have all heard about the various neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. One of the biggest advantages of exercise is its protective effect on our brain. The major effect of exercise is that it creates stronger and bigger Prefrontal cortex (as it is the area that is susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases) hence, it will take longer for these diseases to have an effect on us.
The next big question is, “How much exercise we need”?
Do not worry about it, all you will need is to get three to four times a week of 30 minutes an exercise session. Brisk walking will do the job. But if you do not want to walk, consider other moderate-intensity exercises such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash or even dancing. Do not forget that intense floor mopping or even raking leaves are also excellent exercises that will get your heart pumping.
In this tiringly busy world where we are all moving forward with our jobs, education and life, we all forget our health. As much as complex our brain and our body is, it is the simple things that we neglect, such as a regular exercise session, that will help make our mind and body stronger and sharper…