What is the most transformative and immediate activity you can do that does wonders for your brain? Physical exercise.
It’s been proven that by moving as little as 90 minutes per week, you can supercharge your brain and protect it against cognitive decline. Not to mention regular exercise improves mood, energy, and attention, which allows you to function better in life.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a lot of research revealing the powerful connection between exercise, learning, memory, and overall cognitive abilities.
So if you’re facing a challenging creative project; an upcoming interview or exam? Perhaps this will give you the impetus to get more active.
Let’s rewind a little first, and explain what our brain, in particular cognition has been doing for us all along.
Cognition put simply, is our ability to think.
Think back to when you got up this morning, you began to think, plan, contemplate how best to run your day. Should you get into work earlier today? What tasks should you prioritize first? These thoughts are your cognitive abilities in action.
Cognition is the processes that involves:
- Concentration and attention
- Calculating and problem-solving
- Planning and strategising
All done at a certain speed.
So ask yourself, are you running a slow and outdated operating system, or is it optimal with the latest software update, allowing it to run at high speed?
Physical exercise has the effects that could easily sharpen your cognition. Instantly!
The three brain-changing effects of physical activity that will get you moving today:
1. Physical exercise provides you with the immediate jolt of two key happy chemicals – serotonin and dopamine. These play a key role in happiness and motivation. A study by Yale University has shown that having positive mood is shown to have a direct effect on perception, attention, memory, and executive functions i.e. cognition! (Read more about the study here.)
2. Physical exercise is also associated with better brain structure and brain functioning. Engaging in consistent exercise actually births new brain cells, growing the (hippocampus) area that deals with critical thinking and long-term memory.
3. The brain really is like a muscle. The more bicep curls you do for it, the bigger and stronger it gets. A stronger brain is more resistant and resilient against disease and decline. Diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia or age-related decline drastically lower our quality of life and independence as we age, so the more we invest in physical activity now, the more we’re empowering ourselves to prevent these kinds of issues at a later stage.
Physical exercise really is the fountain of youth. It’s the medicine that creates positive change in your physical, emotional and mental states.
So give your brain its software update i.e. get moving to help it perform better.
After all, a healthy brain means a better quality of life now, and in future!
Wanting to find out more about the link of exercise to brain activity? We recommend this article: How Exercise Reprograms the Brain.