Friday, September 19, 2014

Brain-boosting Benefits of Exercise


We all know that exercise improves our cardio-vascular efficiency and our muscle tone. But does it improve brain function, too?

A recent study suggests that exercise can re-wire the brain and train it to ward off the effects of stress. In the May 10th blog, I wrote in more detail about this benefit. Here I will remind you that regular exercise provides an instant release from stress. In addition, Princeton researchers recently found that stress-related activation of neurons in the hippocampus actually disappeared after the subject ran when they wanted to during the six week study. The brain was conditioned so that it did not produce the stress response. Sounds like just what we need to deal with LA traffic!

Exercise has been shown to make us smart. Working out increases production of a brain chemical that multiplies the connection between brain cells. This communication in the brain is what increases intelligence. Work up a sweat and stimulate those synapses.

A recently discovered substance, irisin, is produced by muscles during exercise. This component fights obesity by burning calories throughout the body. It may also slow aging of individual cells. An additional study showed that exercise reduced brain deterioration by 50% in 300 senior adults. Slowing aging and brain deterioration can help ward off strokes, a major contributor to dementia.

Regular exercise at a moderately vigorous intensity can reduce stress, improve intelligence and slow brain aging. Maybe I won't have to do those Sudoku puzzles anymore!

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