5 Ways Exercise Can Make You Smarter
We all know that exercise is important for our body’s health – but did you know that it also keeps your brain sharp too? Just like the muscles in our body, regular exercise can ensure that you are taking care of your mental muscle too. So step into your sneakers and grab a water bottle, because whether you are lightly jogging on the treadmill or madly sweating it out in a class, you can take comfort in the fact regular training is boosting your brain in these 5 ways.
1. Grows more than just muscles
Exercise helps us grow more than just muscles, it helps us grow brain cells too! Yes, you read that right. According to exciting new research, the hippocampus (a brain area linked to learning and memory) has been found to be especially receptive to neuron growth stirred by exercise. So, when you hear that exercise leads to having a happier and healthier life, you can also appreciate the fact that you’re busy improving (and increasing) your cognitive function too!
2. Boosts your mood and fights depression
Sometimes finding the motivation to exercise can be difficult, particularly if you are suffering from anxiety or depression. But, research has shown regular exercise can often be just what the doctor ordered. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins to your brain, boosting your mood during and after your favourite workout. Exercise also increases your core temperature, which is proven to have a calming effect on the body, while the social interaction you get from visiting the gym can boost your mood and self-confidence. The best news? Any form of exercise will help, so whether you like to skip, run or jump – the only workout you’ll regret is the one you didn’t do!
3. Promotes better sleep
Exercise will get your heart beating and your blood pumping, but it can also help you get more solid shut-eye too which, as we know, is vital for us to function at a high level and fire on all cylinders. By hitting the gym before you hit the hay, studies have shown there is an overall improvement in productivity, our mood and overall health. When is the best time though? Research shows that working out in the late afternoon or early evening can often be the most beneficial time if you want to get some solid shut-eye. Test it out for yourself with a late-afternoon Cycle class or a mid-evening Yoga class. Check your local club page for class times.
4. Keeps your brain sharp
Did you know squatting can actually make you smarter? If you need an extra push and a shove to exercise regularly, this is it! By committing to a session of sustained aerobic exercise like running or cycling, you are actually promoting the creation of new neurons, which can make learning easier, sharpen focus and boost memory. So while you maintain your brawn, you are also improving the long-term executive function of the brain (read: you will be healthy inside and out!).
5. Increases oxygen to the brain
While you are busy hitting the gym, your blood is busy increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain. While food fuels our body, oxygen fuels our brain – with the most important organ soaking up 20% of the O2 we consume. You don’t even have to go hard out on the HIIT – research has found that jumping on the treadmill for a brisk speed walk or light jog can provide an effective means of oxygenating your brain. Or, for those that prefer a stretch to unwind, certain yoga poses have been known to directly benefit blood flow to the brain.