Understanding The Huge Benefits Of Exercise To Your Brain

exercise and brain

Exercise strengthens your brain so a little sidewalk is all you need to exercise and boost your hippocampus. It’s quite obvious that humans were never created to be physically inactive. We exist in a world that demands us to discover the environment, move about, and the brain ceases to function to its maximum capacity if we don’t respond to this stimulus. If we no longer use our minds to coordinate bodily activity, will it slow down, atrophy, and disorganize?

The brain is a massive problem-solving machine at the most basic level. Many of our problem-solving skills have developed to enable humans to respond to a broad variety of environmental conditions, and continuous discovery of such settings is one way we will age gracefully.

Our brains have been designed to push our bodies away from predators, toward foods and mates. There are two explanations to why exercising is necessary. The logical explanation is that it helps in promoting adequate blood oxygenation. The brain operates on oxygenated glucose, which is transported in the blood by haemoglobin, so fresh oxygen supply is perfect.

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The non-obvious explanation is that our brains do not perform well when they are not confronted by problem-solving, as they were designed to function more in unknown circumstances.

Every move you take on a treadmill or elliptical helps you with the first of these two imperatives – keeping your blood oxygenated -but it does not allow the brain to maintain its navigational abilities and cognitive processes perfected.

infographics on effects of exercise on the brain
infographics on effects of exercise on the brain
Source: Lifehack

On the other hand, every minute you move along a rough path, whether in a park or in the forest, you are expected to make hundreds of small adjustments to foot weight, angle and speed. Such changes activate the brain’s neuronal system in the same way it was developed for operation.

Your hippocampus is the region that is most activated, the seahorse-shaped structure that is essential to memory generation and recollection. That is why so many experiments show that physical exercise improves brain performance.

Understanding Embodied Cognition

Embodied cognition is the way of looking at things, the theory that the physical structures of the human body, particularly the visual and motor systems, play a significant role in cognition (reasoning, problem-solving, planning for action, and memory).In this way of reasoning, knowledge is inextricably linked with the sensation of motion.

Embodied cognition sees humans as physically, biologically and genetically rooted social agents who define their world and are influenced by it. Just as the mind affects the body, so does the body affect the mind.

A comprehensive meta-analysis showed that exercise has a major beneficial impact on cognition for people with moderate cognitive disability. Mild cognitive dysfunction implies a significantly increased likelihood of progression to dementia, and this specific probability is exacerbated by the hippocampus’ progressive deterioration (atrophy).

Physical exercise can be almost as successful in strengthening and preserving memory as prescription drugs, as well as global awareness and preventing the development of dementia and other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Exercise And Childhood Memories

Taking a look at embodied recognition, memory, and motion as being interrelated helps understand one of human memory’s greatest mysteries: infantile or childhood amnesia.

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For a fact, during our first two years of life, we don’t recall much, then just a little before the age of six. People who tend to have detailed early childhood memories sometimes describe tales related to them by friends, or misinterpret photographs for primary memories.

Since memory has developed to help us traverse space, the explanation that very young children don’t have memories is that they don’t run about and connect too well with the world.

children doing exercise
Teach your children to exercise for their mental health

It seems that it is the start of walking that activates neurochemical behaviour in the hippocampus, causing cells and grid cells in the hippocampus to begin their internal mapping of the world.

However, if most kids have walked about and experienced the world by age six, it can take years for the hippocampal position system to develop to the extent that it can reliably store adult-like spatial memory. Hence, a loss of infantile and childhood memories

The idea here is that when older adults continue going and learning less than, say, young or middle-aged people, those hippocampal-based memory systems may atrophy -you either use or lose it.

In fact, the key function that the hippocampus performs, not only in spatial memory, may often account for many cognitive impairments that are sometimes found in less healthy older adults, including reductions in comprehension, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and overall cognitive weakening.

Does The Brain Decline As We Get Older?

However, the embodied theory of cognition notes that our cognitive and perceptive capacities are not a permanent endowment but instead stem from productive and active interactions with the world.

As youngsters, through our experiences with our environment, we develop a sense of autonomy and power over the world -playing in the sandbox, climbing a tree and the like. If we limit our experiences with the world, we will lose that sense of autonomy and power which can lead to a loss of energy and trust in our ability to deal with our situation, setting off a downward spiral.

It is particularly a problem with older adults who are already undergoing three kinds of changes in their body that may encourage them to engage less with the world.

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First is the loss of dexterity resulting from a general slowdown in the velocity of nerve transmission, loss of nerve conductance and reduction in eye-hand coordination.

Secondly, there is a lack of motivation that may emerge from isolation and loneliness.

Thirdly, there is a lack of happiness and satisfaction in doing something for yourself, partially due to decreases in dopamine production and uptake, the reward-chemical transmission pathways of the brain.

Drawn together, these effects can unintentionally result in people curbing their behaviours. Abandoning a single task, such as walking on rough terrain or chopping vegetables, allows one to view oneself as “person who no longer does such acts” and generates an increasing self-image in the universe as a non-agent. That can be one of the worse things about ageing.

It is not to say elderly people may participate in dangerous behaviours. Yet, anxiety or trepidation regarding participating in activities that you’ve loved all your life only because you’re “aged” might not be a valid excuse to leave such activities, and could simply speed up your transition into actual “old age”.

What Is The Role Of Brain plasticity In Staying Young?

A major part of the tale of individuals who continue to remain young, given their biological age, refers to synaptic plasticity -the brain’s capacity to build and develop new connections.

Brain plasticity is affected by your genetic code, your life experience, and the society you reside in. It’s also affected by your daily habits, especially when you get older. The transfer of knowledge between synapses and the creation of new synaptic links necessitates a drastic rise in the volume of resources consumed in the brain.

brain plasticity
Brain plasticity effect

A form of brain cells known as Astrocytes, act as energy supplies. An increasing body of evidence indicates that physical activity enhances astrocyte potency and thus boosts synaptic plasticity, memory and general cognition.

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Studies have found that only moderate physical exercise rapidly improves hippocampus activation and integration, and other cortical areas correlated with thinking and memory synchronization.

And such results aren’t the product of the body initiating a stress reaction and producing cortisol, as commonly assumed. Keep exercising regularly and increases in brain blood supply become apparent after 12 weeks.

How Does Walking Outdoors Affect The Brain?

Most likely, you don’t require a gymnasium. Simply walking outdoors has tremendous benefits. You can encounter rocky terrain, a tangle of roots and rocks that require vigilance to prevent tripping. They’re going to flood you with fresh sensations and inputs.

Each minute of walking involves hundreds of micro-decisions on where to position your foot, how much energy to use when putting your foot down and picking it up again, how to brace yourself, how to take your foot off to go forward to the next stage. You have to be vigilant not to get whacked by low-hanging branches in the face, brush away bugs, flies and midges, or swerve to escape the odd horse, dog or child.

The amount of factors -things that might happen to you -is endless. The landscape, the population, the plants, even the environment -all are changing.

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That is the reason our brains have developed to do navigation. This is the type of integrated cognition that restores synapses and rejuvenates hippocampal memory networks, organizing mechanisms for muscle action, and eye-body synchronization.

Something will happen outside. And this is the most powerful way we’ve learned to date to keep the brain alert and healthy.

Which Exercise Is Best For The Brain?

Aerobic exercise, such as running and swimming, is better for the wellbeing of the brain. That’s because it raises your heart rate and ensures more blood is injected through the brain by the body. Physical exercise, such as weight lifting, may also be helpful for the brain by increasing the heart rate.

Can Exercise Heal The Brain?

The brain before and after exercise
source: Openculture

Exercise increases blood supply and memory; it induces chemical brain modifications that improve comprehension, mood and thought. Exercise decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes emerging. Exercising affects the brain in ways that preserve memories and the ability to learn.

Does Exercise Increase Intelligence?

The research is clear: for your brain, aerobic exercise is very healthy. Working out simply increases your Intelligence even better than playing a brain game online. In fact, a Swedish analysis has shown that physical activity will improve your verbal intelligence by 50%.

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How Long Should I Exercise a Day?

For a general goal, per day, strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity. If you decide to lose weight, maintain weight loss or reach specific fitness targets, you may need to do further workout.

Conclusion

Exercise increases blood supply and memory; it induces chemical changes in the brain that promote comprehension, mood and perception. Exercise decreases the chances of heart disease, stroke and diabetes emerging.

Exercising affects the brain in ways that preserve memories and the ability to learn. Bring exercise into your regular life: dancing, cleaning your house, walking with a friend, jogging, playing golf or tennis.

However, if you’re currently wasting so much time looking at your computer screen or tablet, your time could be even better spent cycling, exploring a new hobby or even visiting a friend. All of these behaviours may have significant long-term impacts on the brain’s health and productivity.

The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
About Ochemba Callistus Chinedu 113 Articles
"Ochemba Callistus Chinedu is a certified Medical Laboratory Scientist (B.MLS). Currently, He is a Certified SEO Manager, Content writer/developer and founder of Nedufy: www.nedufy.com. He enjoys reading, writing, travelling, general health, and learning new things."

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