How Exercise Can Make You SmarterContributed By
We all know that exercise benefits the body. It’s good for the heart, promotes weight loss and builds muscle tone.
But did you know that exercise can also raise your I.Q.? Yes, it’s true: a fitter you = a fitter brain.
Any type of exercise has a positive impact on your ability to process and retain information. As long as you’re working out, you don’t need to run a marathon to achieve significantly better brain health—regardless of your age. Recent research shows that cognitive health (brain functioning) can benefit from even the smallest amounts of exercise and physical activity.
Here are 3 ways exercise promotes better brain health:
1) Exercise promotes healthy blood flow and a healthier brain. Have you ever felt better after a walk? Research shows that exercise stimulates healthy blood flow, circulating oxygen around every part of your body including your brain. Improved oxygen circulation boosts the health of your brain cells, leading to increased alertness, higher attentiveness and faster learning.
Dr. John Tatey, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says that “exercise is like taking a little Prozac or Ritalin at just the right moment…it affects mood, vitality, alertness and feelings of well-being.”
2) Exercise triggers a brain-boosting hormone. Researchers at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School have found that the hormone Irisin, which we release during exercise, improves cognition (thinking) and protects the brain against degeneration. Researchers believe Irisin’s protective property is the main factor responsible for making you smarter. Irisin also has the unique ability to take any soft white fat on your body and transform it into a special ‘brown fat’ that boosts metabolism and weight loss.
3) Exercise supports brain growth and prevents brain shrinkage. Exercising increases the size of an area of your brain called the Hippocampus that’s critical for learning and memory. This is because working out activates the Hippocampus, enhancing your mental activity. Research also shows that light exercises such as jogging, walking or dancing can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and other types of brain-shrinking dementia. This finding is significant, as an approximate 10% of adults over the age of 65 years have some form of cognitive impairment.
Protecting your brain from shrinkage isn’t difficult. Studies show that exercising just 40 minutes a few times a week significantly benefits your brain. One study even showed that mice who ran 3 miles each night eventually doubled the size of their hippocampus.
4) Exercise raises your brain’s levels of BDNF. Perhaps the most important factor tied to brain health is the protein compound Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF).Our brains contain 100 billion neurons, and the health and functionality of those neurons is highly influenced by BDNF. Exercise triggers BDNF growth (especially in the hippocampus), improving our ability to think and lowering the risk of getting Alzheimer’s.
Other scientifically proven methods to raise BDNF levels include getting more vitamin D and including more Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet.
Most of us know that exercise leads to a healthier body. But research shows we have another very important reason to exercise: it leads to a healthier brain and a sharper mind, protecting your neurons throughout your life.
You can’t put that in a pil