Miracle-Gro for the brain?
There’s new research that says the number one method for keeping your brain healthy is to create a healthy environment for it to thrive in. You can’t do that without being physically active. Yes, that means exercising.
It turns out that the same things that keep your heart healthy, keep your brain in good shape.
Your Body, Your Brain
Before you dismiss this article as coming from another exercise nut, let’s look at the research.
Getting your heart rate up through physical exercise actually helps build new brain tissue.
Most of the studies concur that elevating your heart rate (at least three to four times a week for 30 minutes) increases levels of a protein called Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor. BDNF is so powerful in building new brain cells it’s being termed the Miracle-Gro for the brain.
Why Physical Activity?
Physical activity is crucial to the way we think and feel. Here’s why:
o Exercise cues the building blocks of learning in the brain
o Exercise improves mood
o It lowers stress and anxiety
o It improves ability to pay attention, focus and concentrate
o It helps stave off the deleterious effects of hormonal changes
You may be familiar with ‘runner’s high’, endorphins generated in joggers and walkers that make us feel good. This has been measured in lab rats and people. But there’s more to it than that.
Neurochemicals, the Traffic Buses
Exercise increases levels of:
These neurotransmitters are the traffic buses for your thoughts and emotions. Low levels of serotonin, for example, are associated with depression and stress.
Toxic levels of stress erode the connections between the billions of nerve cells in the brain. Chronic depression shrinks certain areas of the brain.
Conversely, exercise unleashes a cascade of neurochemicals and growth factors that can reverse this process. That’s right, physical exercise reverses the deterioration and shrinking of brain cells.