You probably already know some of the health benefits of exercise. For one thing, exercise can help you lose weight and improve your mood. But did you know that exercise is actually the best thing you can do for your brain right now? Keep reading to learn what neuroscience says about exercise and the brain.
Wendy Suzuki is a neuroscientist who originally studied how the brain forms memory. But in all of her research, she was sitting too much, gaining weight and feeling pretty miserable. And once she began exercising, she was amazed at the difference it made not only in her mood and weight, but also in her cognitive function.
Her own experience inspired to study the life-changing benefits that exercise has on the brain.
According to Suzuki, exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain. That’s because exercise has immediate as well as long-term effects on the brain.
And while the brain is very complex, there are two specific areas of the brain which benefit from exercise: the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus.
The prefrontal cortex is involved with decision making, focus, attention and personality. The hippocampus is critical for forming and retaining memory.
Both the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are the two areas of the brain which are most susceptible to neurodegenerative, incurable diseases, as well as cognitive decline in aging.
However, exercise can strengthen these two areas and protect them. For example, exercise produces brand new brain cells in hippocampus. This helps to increase the volume of the hippocampus and improve long-term memory.
And just one workout can help you shift and focus attention more quickly, and also improve your reaction times.
In short, the more you exercise the bigger and stronger your brain will be, and that can help protect it from cognitive decline and neurological disorders.
To reap these benefits, Suzuki recommends sweat-inducing exercise at least three to four per week, with each session lasting 30 minutes or more.