The benefits that a strengthening workout provide our physical bodies in terms of balance, strength and stamina have been well-documented, however, the incredible advantages for the brain are just being discovered.
Evidence is mounting that physical exercise is the miracle potion for getting and keeping your brain healthy at any age.
The same way your muscles must be used in order to grow and maintain strength, brain cells operate the same way with the same requirements. We grow and maintain healthy ones with proper exercise shunting blood, oxygen and growth factors into the brain. Even babies of mothers that exercised during pregnancy were born with more mature brains.
Physical exercise improves:
Creativity and Learning
Research has found links between inactivity and depression. Women who were sedentary and sat more than seven hours daily were found to have a 47 percent higher risk of depression than women who sat for four hours or less per day. Those that did not participate in any physical activity at all had a 99 percent higher risk of developing depression than those that exercised. Women that sat for more than 7 hours suffered the most with a 196 percent higher risk of developing depression that those who sat for 4 hours or less. That’s triple the risk!!
Because exercise stimulates the growth of neurons in certain brain regions damaged during depression, you can reverse this damage by getting active. Studies show that burning the equivalent of 350 calories three times weekly through sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depressions as effectively as antidepressants, with none of the side effects.
By assessing your own levels of current physical activity (or lack thereof) you can get an idea of just how much risk for depression you may be taking on.
Age-related decline as well as the risk of dementia:
A recent study with Finnish twins showed exercise reduces dementia risks even over genetics. In other words, don’t use your genes as an excuse!
Reduces stress and anxiety:
Exercise reduces stress and relieves anxiety by increasing soothing brain chemicals like endorphin’s and GABA. It even benefits us at the cellular level. A study revealed that stressed-out women that exercised vigorously on average 45 minutes daily over a three-day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to those who were stressed and inactive.
Optimize Your Health and Longevity
The key to optimizing your health and longevity is to stay in constant motion.
Your brain requires the same type of exercise program your body benefits from – A comprehensive routine that includes strength training (resistance exercise) 2-3 times weekly along with 1-2 high-intensity exercise sessions. (HIIT).
In addition, it is recommended that you stand as much as possible during the day to avoid the well-documented hazards associated with chronic sitting.
Exercise helps protects and improve your brain function by:
Improving and increasing blood flow to your brain. Don’t believe me, just try it and pay attention to how you feel. The warmth circulating through your body and brain is your blood flowing from proper exercise!
Increased production of nerve-protecting compounds
Improved development and survival of neurons
Reducing damaging plaques in the brain
Altering the way these damaging proteins reside inside your brain, which appears to slow the development of dementia
Proper challenging exercise improves the connectivity of brain circuits, increases gray matter (actual neurons), combats and reverses the brain shrinkage associated with poor fitness, increases performance on cognitive tasks, shields you from stress and depression, and retards the onset of dementia.
Pretty good trade off for a few hours of your time weekly wouldn’t you say?
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At just 10 minutes in length, if you cannot find a way to squeeze this kind of effective workout into your schedule every other day, it’s likely there’s not another one in all existence that could take it’s place.
After all, most things can only be made so simple before they just cannot be made to work at all!
– Carolyn “The 10-Minute Sandbag Workout” Hansen
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