Exercise is good for the brain. Why is this important? Because as your body ages and muscles shrink, so too does your brain.
Scientists are now studying intra-cellular activity in the brain under the effect of exercise and are making some surprising discoveries.
An inactive brain, much like an inactive body, withers and loses its ability to function properly. Under the influence of exercise, new branches of cellular development grow in the brain, keeping it elastic and fully functional. Exercise to your brain (and body) is like water to a plant – it needs it to grow and flourish.
Exercising the body creates proteins that travel through the bloodstream to the brain, where they take turns in maintaining and creating cognitive behavior. You may have heard of these proteins – insulin-like growth hormone or IGF-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF. These factors embody the mind-body connection and make it happen.
The absence of these proteins affects cognitive behaviour and productivity. They also affect memory and the amount of data you are able to store and remember throughout the day. These processes involve binding neurons together to make the connection to the brain and then to the body. How efficiently these processes are executed rely on the delicate balance of neuro-chemicals and the growth factors mentioned earlier.
“Exercise has a documented, dramatic effect on these essential ingredients. It sets the stage and when you sit down to learn something new that stimulation strengthens the relevant connections. With practice, the circuit develops definition as if you’re wearing down a path through a forest.
The importance of making these connections carries over to all the issues I deal with in this program. In order to deal with anxiousness, for instance, you need to let certain well-worn paths grow over while you place alternate trails. By understanding certain reactions between your body and your brain, you can manage the process, handle problems and get your mind humming along smoothly.” – John J. Ratey, MD: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.
All you need is 30 minutes of exercise a day to trigger these growth factors and stimulate brain activity and a high-protein diet, supplemented with whey protein that helps stimulate IGF-1. If you started your day with exercise today, then your brain is better prepared to handle the stresses of the day and absorb information. The result: you’ll be more productive and less fatigued.
There is a catch, however, you have to be in the right frame of mind in order to reap the benefits of exercise. This also has a lot to do with motivation and sticking with an exercise program. You can’t trick your brain. If you hate working out, your brain knows and those paths in the forest will remain restricted.
So, the more important question is why do you hate exercise? Probably because you haven’t found an activity that suits your personality. Exercise should be enjoyable, invigorating and social. Focus on finding something you enjoy. Check with your friends and see how they stay active and join in. Above all, change your attitude towards exercise and your brain will flourish.