Exercise and the Brain: The New Correlations

Exercise and the Brain

There is no question that exercising is good for the body. It has repeatedly been shown to increase of our muscular strength and stamina, improve bone density levels, increase cardiovascular capabilities, and so. One thing, however, that scientists are quickly catching on to, is the correlation between exercise and the brain. The effects of exercise on the brain have long been a rather vague, at best, but with all of the new data, science is paying more attention, and thankfully, because of the millions upon millions of Alzheimer’s and Dementia diagnosis’s each year, so is the world.

If we live a sedentary lifestyle, it has been shown to have a myriad of negative effects on the body. Everything from diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, obesity, etc can easily set in. What happens to our brains, when we don’t exercise though? It has been established that we can think more clearly and quickly post exercising, but why has been the long standing question, until now.

It has been recently shown that exercise and the brain are actually very well correlated. We now know that the brain is at it’s arguably most active state when we are exercising. There are any number of explanations, but one very obvious one, is that the harder our hearts are working, the more oxygen we will get pumped into our brains. Another obvious point worthy of consideration, is that when you are exercising, you are not only pushing your body past it’s resting state, but you are putting certain parts, if not all of it, in a state of motion. This means you will be hyper aware to not trip, for example, if you’re running. To not ride your bike into the curb or a tree, or drop a weight on your head. No matter what you’re doing, you’ll have to maintain a certain degree of focus so as to avoid injury. If you are really pushing yourself, you will be that much more alert and focused as you are trying to push through a comfort level and succeed where you may not have previously. This takes focus and concentration to a whole new level.

It’s often been said that with your muscles, you either use them, or you will lose them. That is the same with brain function as well, especially as we age. Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to help us with our memory, as well as our learning as we are directly stimulating the prefrontal cortex and the medial temoral cortex, which helps us become better thinkers and have more memory retention. If you want to increase your chances of staying sharp upstairs as you grow older, you should challenge yourself mentally. Crossword puzzles, mathematics, writing, reading, etc, are all activities which require brain power and focus in order to not only comprehend what it is we are doing, but to retain it as well. Exercise and the brain are now linked to do the same thing, but not as a substitute for cognitive practices, however, but as a supplement.

What exercises should I be doing if I want to maximize my benefits when specifically targeting the new exercise and the brain findings? As a long time Austin personal trainer and gym owner, I’ve found variety is not only the spice of life, but it is the most beneficial approach in most cases. In other words, I suggest you mix it up. Doing any one thing over and over has been shown to not benefit your muscles as much as hitting them from different angles, as well as within different parameters. As an example, instead of bench pressing X weight for X times every week, do a flat bench dumbbell press every other week and use lighter weights for more reps. This will encourage growth as your body isn’t acclimated to this exercise and this range of motion. The same will hold true for preserving brain function. If you do the same old thing over and over, you simply go on auto pilot, and aren’t challenging yourself anymore.

All of the new findings that are showing a previously unknown connection between exercise and the brain are finding that cardiovascular exercise, or aerobic exercise as some folks refer to it, is what is going to pay the most dividends. That doesn’t mean that you need to buy a new pair of running shoes and hit the trail, or buy all the cool new spandex and a $10,000 bicycle in order to preserve brain function. You can approach cardio from a myriad of ways. If you are a weight lifter, you can do a few circuits. If you normally keep your weights heavy and your reps on the lower end, consider switching it up and doing higher reps with lower poundages. This is every bit as aerobic as getting on an elliptical, treadmill, stair stepper, or going for a run. The added benefit, however, is that you’re building your muscles.

How much exercise is beneficial? The latest findings at Harvard Medical School are suggesting 120-150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. That could mean running, swimming, biking, lifting weights aerobically, etc. You choose what exercises you want to do, but the most important thing is that you do it.

Andy is a top notch trainer for fitness novices to seasoned body builders. He has a breadth of knowledge matched only by very few in the fitness industry today.

Exercise and the Brain: The New Correlations
Article Name
Exercise and the Brain: The New Correlations
Longtime Austin personal trainer and gym owner, Andy Bruchey discusses the newly found correlations between exercise and the brain. Working out the body is working out the mind.
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Andy Bruchey- Complete Fitness Design
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My name is Andy Bruchey and I am a longtime Austin personal trainer having founded Complete Fitness Design over 20 years ago. I specialize in weight loss/gain, including the addition of quality, lean muscle mass, corrective flexibility, post injury rehabilitation, nutrition, and sports specific training for professionals. Contact me today to see how I can help you!
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