Sports Week #2: Exercise Impact on Brain Health

“All I need to do is exercise and then I’ll be healthy.”

“That’s crazy! A lot more goes into health than just exercise…”

WRONG!

Today, on the Neuro Bureau we will talk about WHY exercise is so important if not imperative for your brain health.

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[1] Exercise allows your brain to have more access to oxygen and nutrients. 

This statement applies to exercise where you use the force of your own body weight to propel yourself forward. Thinking walking, jogging, or running. When you walk, the pressure of the impact of your against the ground “sends waves through the arteries, which increase blood flow to the brain (also called cerebral blood flow). Getting enough blood to the brain is important for healthy brain function since blood flow brings the brain oxygen and nutrients” (Time Magazine.) An increase of blood to the brain also helps create new brain cells and protect them from neurodegeneration.

 

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A red blood cell. Source. 

 

[2] Exercise Improves Mood and Lowers Anxiety

Aerobic exercise such as spinning, jump roping, or skiing, releases the feel-good hormones making an individual feel calm and happy. Notably, serotonin is elevated in frequent gym-goers meaning more energy and sharper thinking.

[3] Wards Off Depression

Similar to number 2, exercise is actually considered a cure for depression! Long low-intensity exercise encourages the brain to release proteins known as neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections. Depressed individuals actually have a smaller hippocampus, the part of your brain that regulates mood and feelings. So, exercise helps nerves within the hippocampus grow and form connections, reducing depression symptoms.

 

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Comparative anayslis of exercise as a treatment for depression vs medication. Source. 

 

[4] Improves Sleep Quality

There are many reasons why exercise is a natural remedy for insomnia and improves sleep quality. For one, exercise tires you out so your muscles need ample time to recover and grow. Exercise also strengthens circadian rhythm, or the biological process your body goes through to prepare you for sleep and awake you for the day. Lastly, exercise heats you up and afterward the sweet drys and cools you down. A rapid decrease in body temperature from hot to cold has been shown to improve sleep quality.

 

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Exercise effect on sleep quality. Source

 

[5] Exercise reverses Insulin Resistance

Regular exercise can increase insulin sensitivity, steadying blood sugar after a meal for at least 16 hours after exercise. Controlling blood-sugar levels protects your brain against Dementia. There is a connection between Diabetes and death of brain cells leading to Dementia.

 

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The relationship between Diabetes and Dementia. Source. 

 


Hopefully, this article outlined why exercise is beneficial. Yet, one should not exercise out of fear of what will happen if they don’t. Exercise can be a lot of fun! Dance classes, walking a dog, playing on a sports team are all valuable sources of activity that will not only improve your body but also your mind.

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Sources

[1] http://time.com/4752846/exercise-brain-health/

[2] https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/exercise-advice-for-people-with-heart-problems

[3] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression

[4] https://www.rd.com/health/fitness/6-ways-exercise-makes-your-brain-better/

[5] https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/head2toe-15/diabetes-brain?page=3

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