What does exercise have to do with brain health?
In case you need a little more incentive to hit the gym or explore the outdoors this year, here’s one more: it’s good for your brain.
Turns out that while we’re sweating calories away in the park or yoga class, our brain is arming itself against depression and anxiety, forming new neurons and improving its function.
Here are seven things everyone needs to know about the relationship between physical exercise and brain health:
- Cross-cultural research supports a link between exercise and life satisfaction.
- Exercise increases serotonin, which affects mood and arousal, and has been proven to prevent or reduce incidences of depression and anxiety.
- Exercise increases oxygen and nutrient flow.
- Exercise and sleep are natural promoters of neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons(and, exercise and sleep are major stress busters).
- Older adults randomly assigned to aerobic exercise programs exhibit enhanced memory, sharpened judgment, and reduced risk of significant cognitive decline.
- It has been shown that Alzheimer’s is less common among those who regularly exercise.
- Exercise is a predictor of health and longevity.
In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Moses Chao noted that we are only just beginning to understand the many ways in which exercise is likely altering our brains. For now, he said, “it’s a very good idea to just keep moving.”
Facts sourced from Myers, David G. and C. Nathan Dewall. Psychology (Eleventh Edition). New York: Worth, 2015. Print.