It’s no secret to most of us that doing a bit of exercise each day can help us look and feel better.
But did you know that it can actually improve your brain, too? And I don’t just mean how you think, although it can improve this also. It can actually change your brain, and help you grow new nerve cells, known as neurons.
Studies support that doing exercise can protect our brain against effects that are associated with aging.
Most nerve cells can't grow back or regenerate, after they are destroyed. It's why after a spinal cord injury people are often left with a lifelong impairment in their movement. But we now know that actually parts of the brain can do more than just recover, they can actually grown new cells. This is a process called neurogenesis, where 'neuro' relates to 'nerve', and 'genesis' means 'generation' or 'creation'.
And aerobic exercise can play a role in this. It can help with improving our attention, the speed that we can process information at, and the so called higher 'executive functions' of planning and decision making. Basically anything that we need to do in a normal workday.
As little as 3 months of regular aerobic exercise can have a significant impact even on aspects such as blood flow. Looking at studies we now know that it can have an impact such as increasing the blood flow to areas that are involved in how our brain ages.
The actions of exercise on our brains are through a range of certain and specific chemicals. One of the more common ones is BNDF - as brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This, and other chemicals, are involved in the benefits of exercise on our brains.
To get the greatest chance of elevating BDNF, try to exercise at about 80% intensity, and for about 40 minutes, although this can vary person-to-person.
As getting moving like this may help your thinking, too.