We've all heard that exercise can help manage diabetes, decrease blood pressure, and decrease your cancer risk. But, it's also good for your brain. After cruising around the internet on the Google-mobile, I found some pretty interesting benefits:
Improves Memory A recent Dartmouth study concluded that regular exercise can improve memory. One piece of this research that was particularly interesting was that the group who had been regular exercisers and then exercised right before the memory test out performed the group of regular exercisers who didn't exercise right before the test. My personal conclusion is that if you're studying for a test or have something you are trying to memorize, take a few minutes and exercise first.
Strengthen Brain Cells If you spent too much of your youth killing off brain cells, you might want to see if you can strengthen or even regenerate some of them. In this study they found that mice who had been exercising regularly had more active growth in their brain cells than the sedentary group. Cool, huh? An article in Smart Brains says, "Through increased blood flow to the brain, physical exercise
triggers biochemical changes that spur neuroplasticity – the
production of new connections between neurons and even of neurons
themselves. Brain exercise then protects these fledgling neurons by
bathing them in a nerve growth factor and forming functional
connections with neighboring neurons. Dr. Gage’s work of the Salk
Institute for Biological Studies, have shown that exercise helps
generate new brain cells, even in the aging brain."
Improves Mood Exercise makes you feel better. In fact, it's been found to be a reasonable substitute for antidepressants for some patients. One theory is that exercise increases the production of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and seretonin. I tend to get seasonal depression during the Fall and Winter months. It'll be a good test to see if my mood is better this year with regular exercise. If I can avoid those days of just wanting to hibernate, it'll be fantastic!
There are a bazillion other benefits of exercise, but these are a pretty good reason in and of themselves.
Anyway, let's talk more about me and what I've been up to.
Day 10 -- Pilates workout on TV for 15 minutes. Ehh, it was ok. I definitely need to work on my core strength.
Day 11 -- Walk the dog for almost an hour. Based on the half-marathon training plan that I downloaded, I used today as an interval training day. Basically, I'd choose a landmark that was one to two blocks ahead and walk at a much quicker pace to that point. I did this probably 10 times during the walk. I've done this route a lot over the last 15 years and it was a bit quicker today. Yay for intervals.