Physical Activity And Your Brain Health: What’s The Connection?

Physical Activity And Your Brain Health: What’s The Connection?

We all know the many benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle – which, of course, includes exercise. It’s good for our bones, heart health, and virtually every other body system. But how does exercise affect our brain health? 


Do our brains experience benefits when we break a sweat? Fortunately, exercise is just as advantageous for our brains as it is for the rest of our body.


Whether you work out every day or are looking for reasons to start moving more, here is what you need to know about exercise and its connection to your brain.

How Does Physical Activity Boost Brain Health?

Physical activity contributes to the improvement of many functions within the brain. It helps you learn, think, solve problems and even improves the effects of certain mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression – among many other things.


The benefits to the brain from exercise primarily stem from its effects on the many different processes within your body. Exercising helps reduce insulin resistance, decrease inflammation, and encourages the release of chemical within the brain that affects: 

  • The richness and endurance of new brain cells

  • The increase of new blood vessels in the brain

  • The health of your brain cells

Many studies suggest that the prefrontal and medial temporal cortex, which control memory and thinking, are more prominent in those who regularly exercise versus those who don’t.


From aiding in the treatment of depression to lowering blood pressure, there are countless beneficial effects of exercise.


Keep reading to learn more about some of the most impressive advantages exercise provides to your brain health.

What Is The Scientific Connection Between Exercise And Improved Brain Function?

You could write a book regarding the scientific connection between exercise and improved brain function. Many already exist. Many things occur on a cellular level during and after exercising that impact brain health.


Physical activity and brain health intersect in an exciting area of medical research known as the neuroscience of fitness. The primary discovery from this discipline is the relationship between neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells, and exercise.


Regular exercise and physical activity release a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor – or BDNF. This protein supports your existing neurons and encourages new growth in neurons and synapses.

How Does Exercise Benefit The Brain?

Understanding the specific scientific connections taking place in the brain during physical activity can be challenging. Luckily, you don’t have to know what’s taking place to see the brain health advantages of exercise.


Improve Blood Flow To Your Brain

Believe it or not, your brain experiences increased blood flow during exercise. This rise in blood pressure and blood flow increases oxygen and energy in the brain – making your brain perform better and helping you think more clearly.


Slow The Decline Of Fluid Intelligence

Fluid intelligence describes how fast your brain processes information. Unfortunately, fluid intelligence typically declines as we age, making dealing with new or unfamiliar information more difficult. Regular exercise helps optimize brain function while fighting off the decline of fluid intelligence.


Improve Concentration

Exercise immediately boosts your brain’s dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine – crucial hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals improve your focus and attention, making it easier to concentrate on tasks throughout your day.


Avoid Dementia

Countless studies show regular exercise can considerably reduce the risk of developing dementia by almost 30%. As your blood pressure and blood flow increase during exercise, more oxygenated blood enters your brain, stimulating cell growth and survival. 


Relieve Depression And Anxiety

During physical activity, your body releases many brain chemicals that can enhance your mood and sense of well-being. These chemicals help alleviate the symptoms experienced with depression and anxiety. In a less technical sense, exercising helps to relieve your mind of worries and negative thoughts.

What Happens To The Brain Without Exercise?

To put it simply, your brain suffers without physical activity. In fact, one study showed that blood flow to the brain begins to decrease just ten days after rest. Blood flow is a crucial factor in the many brain benefits listed above, meaning you miss out on countless advantages when decreasing the blood supply to your brain.


Without regular physical activity, you’re at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. Also, you may find it more difficult to solve problems and maintain a positive thought process. Most importantly, exercise helps you manage stress. So, if you live a sedentary lifestyle or fall off your routine, your brain releases cortisol, a stress hormone, making it more difficult to manage emotions and responses during stressful situations.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining an exercise routine is challenging, especially in today’s non-stop world. However, the benefits your brain experiences from regular physical activity preserve your intelligence and mental health now and in the future. Making time for exercise is essential for your brain health and should be a priority regarding your overall health and happiness.

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