Fit Forever With Kathy Smith
What is going to keep you on top of your game as you age…doing endless crossword puzzles or taking a walk? The answer is keep moving if you want to maintain brain health. Your body in motion will do more for you brain than any crossword puzzle or brain teaser.
In fact, exercise offers five benefits to brain health.
1. Controls inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to infections. But sometimes, due to stress, poor diet and…lack of exercise, inflammation can become uncontrolled. Increased inflammation in the brain can negatively affect memory and mood. Since lack of exercise contributes to inflammation, maintaining regular exercise routine is a – excuse the pun – no-brainer when it comes to controlling inflammation.
2. Increases insulin sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity is a measurement of how your body reacts to the effects of insulin. Low insulin sensitivity has been linked to a damaged blood vessels, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer – all of which have a negative impact on brain health. Exercise is one of the quickest, safest, easiest and most affordable ways to increase insulin sensitivity.
3. Influences better blood sugar control
There’s more going on than meets the eye during a workout. When you exercise, muscles pull sugar from the bloodstream in order to contract. Even the most moderate exercise has been shown to lower blood sugar levels for about 24 hours after a workout. That’s good news for brain health because high blood sugar levels often result in a temporary condition called brain fog and long term effects include brain degeneration.
4. Boosts levels of BDNF
Exercise stimulates blood flow throughout your body and that’s especially good for your brain because the increased circulation signals the release of a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor – or BDNF for short. BDNF starts the process for new neurons to be formed in the area of the brain involved in memory, learning and decision-making. It also repairs brain cell damage and makes the connections between brain cells stronger.
5. Expands the side of the brain associated with memory
BDNF is not the only thing that helps rejuvenate the “memory side” of the brain. The increased oxygen that you’re taking in while exercising reduces the risk of disorders like diabetes and cardiovascular disease that lead to memory loss. So breathe deep while you’re working out!
All of that from a daily workout? It’s amazing and true!
The Centers for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes – or two and a half hours – of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week AND muscle-strengthening exercises for the major muscle groups at least two days a week.
Have fun with your workouts – exercise isn’t a chore. Create a personalized workout playlist and download music to your phone. Studies show that people who exercise to music workout longer and at a higher intensity.
There’s more than fresh air outside…researchers found that people are more likely to stick with outdoor exercising. Outdoor exercise also boosts focus, energy and your sense of well-being.
Find an activity you enjoy and include friends and family in the adventure of creating a healthier life and improved brain health!