Does Exercise Help Brain Function? [Brain Hack]

Does exercise help brain function? Studies show… it can! In today’s world, so many activities and work are done online. We need more brainpower to accomplish what we need to and communicate effectively. But this also makes us more sedentary.

As we age, sometimes we notice a decline in our brain function. Information in our memory is harder to retrieve. Here is one simple thing we can do to help our brains: Exercise

I’ll go over a few reasons why it helps brain function. Then I’ll explain different types of exercise and the results of studies on memory and exercise. Finally, I’ll give you a few ways to easily integrate simple exercise into your routine. So, does exercise help brain function? Let’s jump in…

exercise for brain function

Effect of Exercise on the Brain

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain so it follows that brain function is increased. Many experts are starting to believe that it’s possible that exercise can be a deterrent to Alzheimer’s and Dementia. One study shows an increase in the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, which typically atrophies in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

In a group of people with mild cognitive impairment, a potential early stage of Alzheimer’s, the results of a study on exercise showed improvement in the left insula and superior temporal gyrus, two brain regions that typically show increased degeneration in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. But results were seen in both healthy people and those with MCI (mild cognitive impairment). This is super encouraging.

Types of Exercise Studied

In the studies mentioned already, just walking 30 minutes 3-4 times a week made a difference. A few studies have had people riding a stationary bike.

Aerobic exercise is a sustained activity from low to high intensity which increases heart rate and breathing for a period of time. This includes walking or riding a bike as mentioned above. Or jumping jacks. Or squats. Anything that is sustainable.

Short burst exercise was also studied and some researchers find it to be just as effective as longer exercise periods. (Good news for most of us!). Not everyone has time or physical capacity to exercise for longer periods of time. Instead, riding a bike at 70% of their max ability for 6 minutes showed a great positive effect on the brains of participants. Running as fast as you can for a short period is another example. Researchers found that a 10-minute burst of exercise can measurably increase your brainpower.

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Low-Cost Ideas That Fill the Bill

Mini trampolines. Walking through the neighborhood. Walk around the pond at the local park. Local gym. Walk through the local mall before the stores open. Simply running in place or jumping jacks in front of the TV.

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Exercise Resistance Bands. Easy to store and get out whenever you want a little resistance training or toning. It just makes you feel better. I also have these and a little really helps a lot.

More Home Exercise Equipment from Target

 

Exercise While You Work

Really cool desks for standing while you work. Many can flex to sitting as well. Some even come with a treadmill! Check it out. This is a top supplier to corporations but not as expensive as you might think. High quality.

iMovR Office Fitness

How Can I Easily Fit Exercise into My Normal Day?

Other than the standing desks above, here are some other ways to get more exercise. I like to use my mini trampoline / rebounder while I’m watching the morning news. I could sit, or I could exercise. Since it takes less time than running or swimming to get an effective workout, this is a fantastic option. Especially if you live in a wet climate.

Exercise bands (above) are Really easy and give you some muscle tone. You feel stronger and allows you to do more aerobic activities. And you can spend as little as 5 minutes helping your body get stronger so you can help your brain get stronger.

At work, you could walk around your building at lunch. At the grocery store, you could take a few ‘laps’ around the store. Go to a mega-store or big box store. 😀 We know how much walking we do there. Just keep moving.

Stretch! Stretch out your arms parallel to the floor, as far as you can, palms facing out, fingers pointed to the sky. Make small circles in a forward direction for 20 repetitions. Then go backward for 20 reps. Remember, small circles. Easy way to exercise your upper arms and get some blood pumping. This is a great warm-up for more vigorous exercise, as well.

So.. Does Exercise Help Brain Function?

Most definitely, based on the research that has been done on healthy people as well as memory-impaired people, exercise is proven to help the brain and cognitive function and improve memory. There really is no reason not to try it since there are so many benefits to our health in general by exercising. You help your heart, lungs, lower cholesterol, increase bone health, as well as a feeling of well being, And your memory!

Please offer your experiences or comments below. It is appreciated!

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References:

Novella, S. (2015). Exercise and Memory. Science Based Medicine. Retrieved on June 16, 2019, from https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/exercise-and-memory.html

University of Western Ontario. (2017, December 21). Short-term exercise equals big-time brain boost: Even a one-time, brief burst of exercise can improve focus, problem-solving. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 16, 2019, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171221122543.htm

Wood, J. (2018). Exercise May Help Reverse Neurodegeneration in Older Adults. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 16, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/11/22/exercise-may-help-reverse-neurodegeneration-in-older-adults/95125.html

Wood, J. (2018). Spurts of Exercise Can Enhance Memory. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 16, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2012/11/28/spurts-of-exercise-can-enhance-memory/48217.html

12 thoughts on “Does Exercise Help Brain Function? [Brain Hack]”

  1. I totally believe that exercise will improve your brain functionality as a mate of mine was seriously hurt in a car accident and had slight brain damage but after the doctors told him that he wouldn’t be able to speak properly he started to get physio and exercise treatment

    It did take about a year of full-on treatment but eventually, he started to get his proper speech back and has been great ever since

    You mention that exercise could help all people with their brain development but does that mean people that are not ill or sick in any way?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Matthew. It does mean even well people can benefit from exercise for their brain health. Students, CEO’s, everyone.. can benefit from exercise for brain function and memory. 

      Reply
  2. I have also heard that exercise helps the brain to function better. I can’t imagine this being untrue, as if you look at old sedentary people versus old active people, there is a definite difference between the two with the latter being far more with it to talk to and young at heart.

    I also see that they say that things like crosswords and sudukos help with keeping the brain active, although I am not sure if this is entirely true or not?

    Reply
    • HI Michel,

      Thanks for your comments! I plan to publish an article on games and similar activities in the near future. 🙂 I agree that older people who are staying active seem more ‘present’ and vibrant.

      Reply
  3. Greetings!
    First of all, thank you for this interesting, informative post about exercising effects on the human brain functions!
    I really think exercising is a must in our daily routine, especially that it help us physically by maintaining our inner and outer organs health, emotionally by releasing specific hormones, and mentally by activating certain areas of the brain!
    And studies show that since exercising activates the brain, it makes us smarter and better at “critical thinking”, and with our brain power, we can think about exercising and actually benefit from muscle memory!
    I believe that exercising daily can become an actual habit, and therefore having great results with enough time.
    Thank again for this amazing post!
    Keep up the amazing work!

    Georgio

    Reply
  4. Exercise has proven beyond reasonable doubt that it is the perfect thing needed by our body and the cognitive part of it to function effectively. It does not come easy though but with constant work and dedication, one is sure to get to that healthy state. Exercise can prove to be the deciding factor and I really love this about it. Thanks for your research proven post

    Reply
  5. If you’re here, then do yourself the favor of reading:
    Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
    Hopefully the author here provides a link to it, because it’s a fantastic book that is well researched and documented. The only time exercise isn’t good for you is if you take it too far and injure yourself, or you’re not doing it and making yourself depressed about your inactivity. Read that book – great for kids that hate P.E. class too!

    Reply
  6. Exercises can prove to be integral in making the body to achieve the peak of the ability that it can display and I truly fancy this a lot. Nothing beats the feeling of having the right mental frame of health and mind and the best way to achieve that is by getting started with exercises. It can really go a long way in keeping us fit.

    Reply

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