Nourishing body, mind, & soul.

Healing Your Brain With Exercise

on February 22, 2014

Move! Move! move!  Multiple studies show that aerobic and weight training improve brain function.  Not only does exercise increase brain activity, it allows for the repair of damaged brain cells by encouraging the creation of new ones, stimulates nerve growth factor, and can cause new stem cell growth.  All these factors are essential in preventing neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc… Now, why wouldn’t you want to hit the gym or go outside and move your butt!?!?

There are subtle differences in how aerobic and weight lifting improve and effect brain function.  They both greatly improve cognitive function.  Exercise improves the ability to remember words (verbal memory), the ability to recall things (associative memory), the ability to remember where things were once placed in a space (spatial memory).  Verbal memory had greater improvement in those that did cardio activity versus weight training.  Runners’ brain showed an increase in levels of a protein known as BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), which is known to support the health of existing neurons and encourage the creation of new brain cells.  Weight trainers did not show increased levels of BDNF.  On the other hand, those who lifted weights had higher levels of another protein (insulin like growth factor) in their brains and blood than runners did.  This protein also promotes cell growth and helps fragile newly formed neurons survive.

All in all, your best bet is to incorporate both types of exercise, aerobic and resistance training.  Focus on exercise that incorporate coordination along with cardio and weight training.  Whatever you choose, it all improves your brain!  So, get  smarter and get mov’n!!!


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