Regular physical exercise is a fantastic way to maintain and hone mental sharpness. Critical thinking, learning and good decision making can all benefit from playing sports or exercising.
Research has shown that it’s important to engage in a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities to sharpen the mind. Getting involved in either of these forms of exercise three to five times each week for a minimum of 30 minutes really has a positive impact on mental health.
Fortunately there are multiple ways to become physically active, but the most important element is aerobic exercise. This is because aerobic exercise or cardio, increases your heart rate and blood flow to the brain. An increased heart rate is complemented by quicker and harder breathing, depending on how intensely you’re pushing yourself.
As your breathing quickens it pumps more into your bloodstream and therefore oxygen is delivered to your brain. Then it gets a little scientific. More oxygen to the brain is known as neurogenesis, which is the production of neurons to the layman or laywoman. These neurons are produced in particular areas in your brain which affect memory and cognitive thinking. Neurogenesis increases brain volume and this cognitive reserve is thought to help fight the onset of dementia.
Exercise also promotes neurotrophins, which leads to greater brain plasticity. This is the ability for the brain to change its own structure and function following changes within the body or in the external environment. These alterations improve memory and learning ability. Further to exercise creating neurotrophins, it also increases neurotransmitters in the brain and specifically serotonin. Colloquially serotonin is often called the happy chemical and is pivotal in developing good mental well-being.
Endorphins are also produced during exercise and these also make you feel better while helping you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for daily tasks. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.
Sport and physical exercise has huge upside and the more we’re able to do, the better.
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