We All Know We Need To Work Out — But Here’s A List Of Why It Helps Our Brains

Physical exercise is certainly good for the body, but did you realize that it’s beneficial for your brain as well? Going for a brisk walk or attending a rock-climbing class can improve your cognitive function and keep your brain sharp as you age. Here are some other ways hitting the gym can be as good for your brain as hitting the books.

Preserve Brain Functions

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Cognitive testing shows that the more fit you are in your 20s, the more likely you are to maintain good verbal memory and other thinking skills in your 40s and 50s. Cardiorespiratory fitness appears to have a lasting effect on the brain.

Improve Working Memory

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Physical activity that involves proprioception, or coordination and awareness of all parts of the body simultaneously, turns out to improve working memory. Scientists hypothesize that this occurs because all parts of the brain are used simultaneously during this activity. Proprioceptic activities include climbing trees, climbing rock walls and walking on balance beams.

Increase Cognition

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Exercise not only has a mood-enhancing effect, but it also increases your cognitive function. Studies show that endurance exercise triggers a muscle protein that stimulates the genes responsible for memory when it hits the brain, possibly by helping to improve transmission between neural cells and synapses.

Enhance Planning Skills

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MRIs show that older people who are in good physical shape do well on memory and planning tasks. Just walking three times a week results in a 35 percent decreased incidence of dementia in people over 65.

Lower Risk of Dementia

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If you weren’t active in your 20s, it’s not too late to start. Studies show that the middle-aged people who exercise twice a week lower their risk of dementia. No matter when you start exercising, even after midlife, your risk of dementia drops with physical activity.

Regain Comprehension Abilities

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Physical activity after midlife turns out to be most beneficial to those who have been living sedentary lifestyles. Older people who are overweight or obese show the most significant comprehension improvement when they start to exercise.

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Combat Depression

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With 14 to 18 percent of people over 55 suffering from depression, exercise can produce neurological benefits in this area as well. The ability of exercise to elevate mood is well-known, with the increased blood circulation having a positive effect on the brain as well as the body.

Stimulate Brain Growth

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Scientists are studying a hormone that’s linked to both exercise and increased cognitive function. Studies show that aerobic exercise releases chemicals that actually stimulate the growth of new neural cells in the brain.

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