Yet Another Reason to Get Fit

As if you needed yet another reason to stay active, there’s research that shows regular exercise is just as good for your brain as it is for your biceps! As you age, the rate at which your brain regenerates cells slows down and your brain can actually shrink. But, don’t worry. You can combat that by maintaining your fitness through exercise. Studies published by Harvard Medical School say that regular exercise has a positive impact on your memory, your thinking and your reasoning ability.
Consider these brain facts when you think about fitting fitness into your life.
  • Many studies have shown that the prefrontal and medial temporal cortices which control thinking and memory are actually bigger in people who exercise.
  • Engaging in a regular fitness routine over the course of one year can increase the volume of certain parts of your brain. The more you exercise the more brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) your brain creates. This is what stimulates new brain cell growth.
  • For every flight of stairs you climb each day, your brain age decreases by .58 years! So, skip the elevator and take the stairs!
  • Endurance training triggers a biochemical effect in your brain to actually create new neurons that help to maintain your memory and cognitive function.
  • You can see the effects of physical activity on the brain in young people too! Students who participated in a study that incorporated morning exercise nearly doubled their reading scores.
  • Moderate cardio exercise increases the size of your hippocampus which stimulates verbal memory and learning.
  • Maintaining your physical fitness can also improve your ability to focus. One study measured how well people were able to focus and complete a challenging cognitive task. Who fared best? You guessed it — those who were in better physical shape.
  • Regular exercise spurs your brain to create more serotonin and dopamine which are your body’s natural mood elevators.
So, it’s clear the benefits of physical fitness go well beyond how you look. By adding a combination of aerobic and strength training exercise to your life, you’ll be giving your body and your brain a boost.

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