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How Exercise Can Make You Smarter

If you’re not already exercising on a regular basis, then this article on how exercise can make you smarter may just make you do to. It’s widely known that exercise gets oxygen circulating around your brain which leads to sharper thinking , makes you happier and all-round healthier, but new research has shown that exercise can actually make you smarter too.  This is an excerpt from the Huffington Post and you should definitely take a few minutes out read it.

Exercise Boosts Brain PowerIt turns out that exercise does a lot more than get the blood pumping: in about 60 percent of the population, it may be responsible for the expression of a gene that floods your cells with “brain derived neurotrophic factor” — or BDNF – a protein that is thought to help with mental acuity, learning and memory.

In a study based at Dartmouth College, lead researcher Michael Hopkins and his team tested four different exercise schedules on a group of sedentary, though healthy young men. They gave the men a set of memory tests and mental health surveys to determine their psychological states. Some participants exercised for four weeks and were tested on the final day. Another group exercised for four weeks, but did not exercise on test day. A third group had just one day of exercise, followed by the test. A last group was sedentary throughout.

Hopkins and his team found that the group that exercised daily — and on test day — had the benefit of a boost in BDNF. The other groups did not. It’s important to note that “exercise” here referred to moderately-paced walking, rather than a very rigorous training session.

“For mental health benefits, what really counts is exercising on a regular basis — not the intensity. You don’t have to wipe yourself out,” Hopkins tells The Huffington Post. “The basic goal is, get up and move your whole body more than half of the days of the week.”

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So that’s how exercise can you make you smarter. If that’s not enough to get you exercising, then I don’t know what is.  It’s interesting that the boost of BDNF was actually witnessed with those who exercised daily, not just regularly, but daily. I think we can all relate to the fact that exercise makes you sharper (unless you have never exercised and attempted to concentrate afterwards). Twenty minutes of cardiovascular first thing in the morning works wonders for my concentration, certainly for the following few hours. You may have seen on this site that exercise improves your memory too by increasing the size of your hippocampus, the part of your brain responsible for memory.  If not, Regular Exercise Can Boost Memory And Focus and Exercise For A Healthy Brain will explain.




How Exercise Increases Attention And Focus

Would you like proof of how exercise increases attention and focus? Here, Meg Faris, for Eye Witness News explains all. There are a number of articles about exercise and focusing on this site, but this one is different.  It’s different, because it’s a different study.

Last week we told you about new brain studies showing that exercise actually increases new brain tissue more than thinking or doing brain puzzles and cognitive exercises. Well now exercise is also shown to also increase your attention and help you process information faster. The neuroelectrical brain activity on scans, shows that brain activity after 20 minutes sitting, is low.

The brain scans from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, suggest fewer resources devoted to focus after 20 minutes of rest. But brain scans after 20 minutes of hoofing it, show much more brain activity. Research has found that just 20 minutes of working out can help your mood for the next 12 hours, and it helps your body become less affected by stress.

While you’re exercising, you’re not only helping your brain and mood, but your body as well by burning off fat. Well now a new European study suggests you can burn more fat during the exact same work out. How? Eat something low glycemic for a snack pre-workout. Nuts and apples would fit into that category because they trigger low levels of the hormone insulin. But eat it with a high glycemic or sugary, high fructose food, such as candy, cookies or a soft drink, and you lose the positive fat-burning effect.

Read the full article here

Not only does this show how exercise increases attention and focus, but it also shows that your brain slows down after twenty minutes of rest.  It actually slows down.  No wonder people go into zones where they are completely unproductive when they’re sat in front of a computer for 8 hours a day.



Exercise Is the Single Best Way to Keep Your Brain Active

This week is Brain Awareness Week, and this short but sweet post gets straight to the point. Clinical neuroscientist, Dr Cathy Stinear explains that exercise is the single best way to keep your brain active.

It’s Brain Awareness Week, with a focus on research into how the brain works, and teaching people how to look after what’s between their ears.

Clinical neuroscientist Dr Cathy Stinear says she’s often amazed by just how much of a recovery people with injuries can make.

She says contrary to popular belief, physical exercise is the best way to get the best out of your brain.

“A lot of people think that to keep their brain healthy into older age they need to be doing crosswords and sudoku and playing bridge and those are all good things but in fact the single best thing you can do for your brain health is to simply go for a walk every day.”

Dr Stinear says people of all ages are always keen to learn more about how their brain functions.

So put away the sudoku and newspaper, get outside in the fresh air, pick your favourite aerobic activity whether it be swimming, walking, jogging or anything else and set aside just 20 minutes a day. I find the best time to do exercise is often first thing in the morning, or just after breakfast so you can mentally prepare yourself for the day to come.  It’s one of the best ways to focus in my opinion.  Remind yourself that exercise is the single best way to keep your brain active – and without it, your brain will suffer.

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Exercise for a healthy brain!

It is common knowledge that we all need to exercise for a healthy brain, but did you know that it can actually affect you memory too? The more you exercise, according to Dr Dr Philip Poi Jun Hua, the more the part of your brain associated with memory, the hippocampus, actually grows. As we age, the hippocampus actually shrinks so it is particularly important for people of all ages to get regular exercise.

The benefits of physical activity are well publicised. Since the Jack LaLanne fitness programmes on television in the early 1960’s, and Jim Fixx’s running/jogging revolution at the same time, people began to change their perception of what defines a good life. Fat was out, fit was “in”. However, we Malaysians have not embraced this willingly, as evidenced by the increasing numbers of obese young and middle-aged citizens.

It is easy for us to think that exercise only exerts its effects on our bodies from the neck down, but the same types of exercise benefit our brains too.

Now, there is growing evidence that physical activity is good not only for your heart, but for your brain as well. And in case you are in the 45-49 year age group, be aware that a recent study of over 7,000 civil servants (men and women) in the UK has shown that many domains (except vocabulary) indicating cognitive decline or memory decline was already evident in this “young” age group!

Not only do we absolutely need to exercise for a healthy brain, but it’s one of the most effective, and natural ways, to fend off illness. Why, oh why, do so many middle-aged people think that exercise isn’t necessary? What do you think? Is it a lack of education? Is it a lack of knowledge? I’d love to see some feedback!

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How Exercise Fuels the Brain

If you’re a regular on this site, you’ll have read a number of posts related to how exercise is key for your brain. Now you’ve understood that, you may want to understand just how exercise fuels the brain, and Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times explains just how this is done.

Moving the body demands a lot from the brain. Exercise activates countless neurons, which generate, receive and interpret repeated, rapid-fire messages from the nervous system, coordinating muscle contractions, vision, balance,

Whilst this particular testing was done on animals, it is clear how exercise fuels the brain. An interesting point was with regard to how your brain needs feeding straight after exercise, along with your muscles – with some kind of carbohydrate.

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Exercise For Focusing Your Mind, Body and Soul

There are many reasons to take up exercise on a regular basis, including its natural ability to make you happy through releasing serotonin into the brain (giving you that natural high), the absolute requirement to keep your organs functioning healthily, it increases your wellbeing, circulates oxygen throughout your body, builds up self-confidence, alleviates stress and keeps you looking good too! Dr Athena Staik goes into detail in this fascinating article about exercise for focusing your mind, body, and soul.

It has a calming, tension-cleansing effect on the mind and body. It increases your ability to focus, and concentrate, and is a great way to regulate anger and reactivity. Several therapy approaches incorporate breathing in dealing with anxiety and panic issues.

Next time you think you don’t have time for exercise, think again, and prioritise exercise in your day.  Not only will you feel great afterwards and throughout the day, but think of it as exercise for focusing your mind, body and soul.

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