I just love learning and sharing information about the brain. Recently, Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neural Science gave a very interesting TED talk on “The Brain Changing Benefits of Exercise”. The funny thing about this talk is that she learnt the information outside her science lab. She felt really lethargic and decided to change that scenario and began doing exercise. She noticed instant positive benefits to her brain, mood and focus.
She actually discovered that physical exercise has long lasting positive effects on the brain. In fact she noticed that exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain on any given day. The prefrontal cortex in the frontal area of your brain is critical for decision making, focus and attention. Deep in the temporal lobe you have the hippocampus which is ideal for helping you change form and maintains long term memory from only brief bursts of exercise. She also found it helps to give your mood a boost and your energy a boost. In fact you can shift your focus and long term memory boost for at least two hours.
Inside the brain you have the neural networks. Exercise was found to have immediate effect on your brain by increasing the levels of your neural transmitters like:
- Neuro Adrenalin
Exercise actually changes the brains anatomy, physiology and function. Exercise is so powerful that it produces new brain cells in the hippocampus which actually increases the volume of the hippocampus. The more you work out, the bigger the hippocampus and prefrontal lobe become. This means it could offset Alzheimer’s by slowing down its start and/or its progression. These changes to your mood and focus are immediate and long lasting.
You only need to do 3 to 4 sessions per week of 3o minutes in length like walking around the block or to the public transport, or to work or taking the stairs. If you think of the brain being like a muscle then the more you work out the bigger your hippocampus and prefrontal lobe become and the less likely you are of getting late onset diseases.
We can think of exercise as a super-charge for your brain. It’s great also because it’s free. So get up and move people and feel the difference.
I can so relate to Professor Suzuki’s findings because I exercise up to 4 times a day by walking my dog around the block, taking the stairs, Aquafitness etc. But the most enlightening results for me was when I was looking after my elderly father. He was going through the Alzheimer’s clinic. After adding really good home grown foods to his diet and regular exercise he had the least decline of any patient in 4 years. Then he moved to a Retirement Village where he sits most of the day. The decline in both his mental and physical health is noticeable.