Another Benefit of Exercise: Its Remarkable Effects on Brain Function
The compelling evidence is in: exercise helps build our brain by resisting shrinkage and increasing cognitive abilities. Exercise promotes neurogenesis, our brain's ability to adapt and grow new brain cells, regardless of age.
Exercise also is a “secret weapon” to easing depression; research shows that in some cases depression medications work no better than exercise and exercise often surpasses the effect of medications. And, exercise has no serious negative side effects. Exercise promotes our natural “feel good” hormones and increases the neurotransmitters associated with mood control. Of course, you must always work with your health care provider if you are being treated for depression; exercise could be prescribed as a complement to your medication.
Boosts Creativity and Problem Solving
Exercise also boosts creativity and problem solving skills. It opens up our minds' "free flow" of ideas. One study found that walking can increase creativity up to 60 percent.
In the area of boosting brain growth and regeneration, exercise can help fight dementia and keep us thinking clearly! It's been shown that those who exercise have a greater volume of gray matter in the parts of the brain responsible for memory and cognitive function. Exercise stimulates the production of a protein that triggers production of a factor called BDNF that not only preserves existing brain cells but also activates stem cells that make our brains grow larger.
Brain and Body Benefits
We each have our own primary goals and needs for exercise - be it for physical health issues; to function better in our daily activities; or to be able to get back to activities we once enjoyed. To have additional benefits that help our brains stay as fit as the rest of our bodies, should be great incentive to keep up with exercise and living an active lifestyle.