To get fit. To stay healthy. To prevent chronic disease. These are all great reasons most of us use to hit the gym or go on a jog, but did you ever put on your exercise gear with the intention of getting smarter?
Not many have, but the research indicates you may be in for a surprise. Learn how working out positively impacts the brain and may actually enhance your cerebral acumen.
How Exercise Improves Your Mind
A helpful side effect of working out is actually an improvement in brain function to include memory, stress reduction, and increased focus. Research shows that physical stress on the body in the form of exercise actually helps mitigate emotional or mental stress. This occurs because exercise can put changes in motion within the neuroendocrine system, affecting hormones responsible for stress responses.
Importantly, scientists discovered that a specific molecule, irisin, can promote the growth of new neurons, enhance cognition, and improve learning and memory. This molecule is specifically increased during and after endurance exercises. Researchers suggest that irisin has “neuroprotective” effects on the brain.
What Kind of Exercise Improves Mental Functioning?
While it can be argued that any form of exercise is better than none, studies conducted on the effects of working out on brain functioning have shown the following type and intensity of exercise provide the best results:
Aerobic exercise. Including boxing, cycling, jogging, and jumping rope, aerobic exercise boosts the part of the brain responsible for learning and verbal memory. On the flip side, resistance and strength training, for example, do not elicit this same response in the brain.
Two hours of brisk exercise a week. One hour twice a week seems to be the minimum amount needed to experience the ongoing mental benefits of exercise. This is partly because exercise stimulates growth factors directly related to the development and survivability of new blood vessels and brain cells in the central nervous system.
Endurance exercise. Thanks to studies on irisin, endurance exercise certainly has its benefits in enhancing learning and memory. However, there is a limit to which endurance exercise remains beneficial for cognition, and if you overdo it, you may do more harm than good. Like the old saying goes — “all things in moderation.”
Get Smart, Stay Fit with Bria Method
Sure, get those abs in shape and chisel your triceps (after all, who doesn’t enjoy looking and feeling great after regular workouts?), but also take advantage of the mental benefits of exercise. Get in the best shape of your life and enhance your mind with Bria Method; join a LIT or HIIT class today for the best workout of your life!