You have heard us talk about things you can feed your brain to keep it healthy, including omega-3 fats, vitamin D, magnesium, green tea, red wine and curcumin (tumeric). It is equally important to avoid brain damaging foods, such as excess sugar, trans fats, most vegetable and seed oils, and neurotoxins (MSG, flouride, artificial sweeteners, colorings and preservatives). Aside of these dietary factors, an overwhelming amount of research is showing regular exercise may top the list as the one of the most important ingredients for brain health.
No matter what type of physical activity you choose, exercise can boost brain power and brain health in several ways. First and foremost, exercise increases blood circulation to the brain which some experts believe is an important factor why it reduces brain shrinkage, memory and cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and increases mood.
Exercise also encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing nerve cells to multiply, strengthen their connections, and protect them from damage. During exercise, nerve cells release specialized proteins which activate brain cells to convert into new neurons.
There is also new evidence why you should not stop exercising. Two new studies have revealed that the brain benefits of exercise appear to quickly fade if you stop exercising. In one study, improved memory started to fade within one to six weeks of not exercising. In the other study, regular exercise improved mood, reduced anxiety and improved resiliency to stress. The benefits, however, wore off quickly following three weeks of inactivity.
The results suggest that your body is designed for regular exercise, not sporadic or infrequent activity. If you exercise regularly, you are not only supporting your brain health but all other aspects of health as well. Exercising throughout your entire life also plays a crucial role in preventing and reducing chronic disease.
Health experts recommend a minimum of 150 total hours of physical activity a week. This amounts to at least 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week.