Physical exercise is one of the most important things you can do to improve brain function. The reason is that exercise affects almost every function of your brain. You can do it! Get started exercising today.
When you exercise you can increase your heart rate to as much as 3 times your resting heart rate. The brain receives about 20-30% of your heart’s output of blood. The more blood your heart puts out, the more blood will go to your brain. When you exercise, your brain gets additional blood, oxygen and nutrients. This is similar to a farmer producing better crops by irrigating them and adding fertilizer. So too, additional blood flow fortifies the brain, feeds it, fuels it, and improves brain function.
In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, participants reporting a low level of physical activity at baseline (phase 1) were significantly more likely to have cognitive test scores in the lowest quintile after adjustment for age and gender.
–American Journal of Public Health, 2005; 95(12):2252-2258.
There are many reasons why exercise helps brain function. Exercise works – whether from increased circulation, lowering of cortisol, decrease of stress, increase of the body’s natural anabolic hormones, lowering of insulin, stabilizing blood sugar, change of pace, endorphins or just the joy of doing it (or finishing it)! Exercise improves not only brain function but the function of every organ of the body.
Three Guidelines for Safe, Healthy, Exercise
Safety. Competition can be fun but it can also be dangerous. Remember, it is only a game. The goal is to get exercise and have fun. Take time to warm up, stay hydrated and take your vitamins.
Intensity. You need to be sweating a bit and get short of breath. Push yourself a little bit, just enough to get a little winded and a little sweaty. Keep it up for 15-20 minutes a day and you’re done! You will be amazed at how quickly you will begin to feel better and think better.
Rest. Never play sports when you are tired. Fatigue and dehydration are the two most common causes of all injuries. Exercise without rest does not work. You need enough sleep to awaken refreshed. With rest, your mind and body can improve.
For example: Walk briskly 20 minutes a day. In that time the average man should be able to walk a mile and a half and the average woman, about a mile. As you walk more you will easily exceed these expectations. You may prefer aerobics, weight lifting, martial arts, tennis, basketball, soccer, swimming, or cycling. Whatever it is you do, do it regularly and follow the 3 guidelines.
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