Exercise is great for your brain and your body. Yoga, pilates and tai-chi are all very well-known wellness activities that both focus and relax the mind whilst exercising the body. But are there any other forms of exercise that satisfy both of these areas? Let’s get to work.
The benefits of exercising in nature
Whatever exercise you choose to do, doing it outside will bring you many benefits.
Research shows that spending time outdoors can reduce your cortisol levels (the chemical in your body that causes stress). And everyone can appreciate the scenery too.
Exercising outdoors also allows you to be in direct contact with sunlight. This means you can benefit from Vitamin D which has been proven to be a mood-booster and increase levels of serotonin - which can reduce your symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Many studies have indicated how exercise can contribute towards improved mood, but exercise has been known to help reduce the risk of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease too.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease discovered that study participants, who spent at least 1 hour and 8 minutes a day doing moderate physical activity had improved glucose metabolism compared to participants who did less exercise.
Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike, dancing, doubles tennis, and rollerblading.
What is glucose metabolism?
Glucose metabolism provides the fuel for physiological brain function, so it’s essential to take good care of it. Other ways you can protect your glucose metabolism include eating a healthy balanced diet, not smoking, cutting down on alcohol and losing weight. If you’d like to sign up for a FREE weight loss course, click here.
Exercises that get your heart rate up
Neuropsychologist Ozioma C Okonkwo was part of a team of researchers who discovered various links between brain health and exercise, such as:
- Exercise can diminish the impact of brain changes on cognition
- People who exercise have greater brain volume in the areas of the brain which are associated with both reasoning and executive function.
- Increased aerobic capacity (the point your body is using as much oxygen as it can) boosts brain structure, function and cognition.
Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate which also means the body pumps more blood to the brain. Generally, the higher your heart rate is during exercise, the more calories you burn.
Running, swimming, skipping and weight lifting are all good examples of exercises to get your heart rate up.
There’s also a good reason to add an exercise bike to this year’s Christmas wish list. A study led by Joe Northey, a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, discovered that people can increase blood flow to the brain by riding a stationary bike.
The increased blood flow then helps to produce a range of growth factors that are responsible for cell growth and associated with improved brain function.
So, there we have it. Long exercise, exercise outside, and exercise that keeps your heart rate up can all benefit your brain and your body.
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