how exercise helps your brain

Exercise packs a lot of punch.  We all know (I think!) that exercise in general is good for your heart and lungs.  But did you know that it’s good for your brain?

When you do aerobic exercise (any exercise that can be sustained for more than two minutes), more blood is pumped to the brain.  More blood means more oxygen.  More oxygen means better-fed brain cells.

Exercise is growing stronger and stronger links to more efficient learning, improved memory, and improved cognitive functioning in the elderly and in those with Alzheimer’s.

Try this experiment on your own.  If you are working on something at a desk (or other location where you are seated), after an hour (or whatever your time line is for a break) take a break, but stay seated.  Let your brain rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then return to your work.  Later, take another 5-to-10-minute break, but this time, get up, stretch, walk around, maybe even jog or do a few jumping jacks or something really to get your heart pumping, then return to your work.

After which break did you feel more focused?

This article talks in more scientific detail about the cognitive benefits of exercise.

This page has summaries of various studies regarding the cognitive benefits of walking and of running (studied separately), as well as summaries on how exercise protects your brain as you age.  Long, but very easy to read.

I know that I get many (most?) of my ideas for whatever I’m working on (blog, teaching, training, etc.) when I am running, biking, or swimming.

Do you feel smarter or have you noticed better memory when you are exercising regularly?

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