The Importance of Aerobic Exercise
When it comes to increasing our cognitive performance, there are many things we can do. The past few weeks, I’ve shared with you the importance of sleep. This week, I want to focus on the importance of Aerobic Exercise.
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Aerobic exercise allows you to improve memory, brain processing, and creativity.
While exercise may not be at the top of everyone’s list, it’s an important activity that benefits you in many more ways than just physical.
Aerobic exercise is the kind of exercise that leads to your heart pumping and sweat dripping. This is the kind of exercise that gets you moving, challenges you, and helps you work away any stress you’re carrying with you. While this exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight and improving your physique if that’s your desire, often times we aren’t aware of how beneficial it is for our brain, too. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to be able to increase the size of the hippocampus, which is what’s involved in verbal memory and learning. In people who exercise regularly, it has also been shown that their prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex has a higher volume. These areas play a large role in thinking and memory. From this, we can see how regular aerobic exercise can help improve memory and thus increase our cognitive performance.
Improved Processing Speed
A recent study found that exercise was in fact linked to more proactive brain activation signals, meaning it increased the processing speed and led to both lower stress and a higher IQ. Sounds like a win-win to me! I want to share with my clients and readers that exercise truly can benefit you in so many ways. It has the ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors. Growth factors are chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Keeping your brain healthy can give you better ability to process thoughts, think creatively, and continue to successfully create new brain cells regularly.
Improved Mood and Sleep
In the past three blog posts, I dove deep into the importance of sleep. Let’s not forget what a great sweat-session can do to improve your quality of sleep. Moving your body through aerobic exercise can help boost your mood and reduce any stress and anxiety you may have going on at the time. Exercising your body can help your brain and body to relax, thus leading to better quality of sleep. Try keeping track of your quality of sleep on days you exercise and on days you don’t, and see if it makes any improvements!
Ideas for Aerobic Exercise
My encouragement to you would be to find something that you enjoy doing. Finding exercises that you actually want to do will help you be more likely to do it on a regular basis. If you like biking, cycling can be a great way to get out and get some fresh air. Are you a runner? You can jog or run alone, with friends, with your significant other, or with your dog. If you’re looking for a community to work out with, joining a gym or fitness boutique will allow you to work out in a class format with others around you. Who knows, you may even meet new friends! If you know that you will need more accountability, and your budget allows, look into hiring a personal trainer to get exactly what you need out of the time you have to workout. Trainers can customize workouts to help you achieve your personal goals and will lead you along the way.
How Often to Exercise
Making time for exercise doesn’t have to be impossible. Every little bit counts, and it’s easy to start with baby steps and grow from there. Some people may exercise every day, and some once a week. It’s important to start where you are and build up from there. Start with 30 minutes a day, and then grow from there. This can be 30 minutes spent on a brisk walk with the dog, an hour of exercise class, or an hour on the bike. Getting at least 30 minutes a day in can help you keep your brain fresh and moving, and thus get those creative juices flowing!
My Challenge to You
This week, I challenge you to set aside 30 minutes per day (at least) to get moving. Write down what you did, how you felt during it, and how you felt after. Keep track of hunger, brain fog, and sleep quality. Sure enough, I bet you’ll find with regular aerobic exercise you’ll begin to beat the brain fog, improve your quality of life, and achieve the cognitive performance you’re working for!