Exercise and the Brain

Outdoor meditationExercise effects two main areas of the brain. One, the prefrontal cortex and two, the hippocampus. The prefrontal cortex is the area behind your forehead that allows you to critically think, focus, make decisions and forms your personality. The hippocampus is responsible for processing and retaining long term memory. Dr. Wendy Suzuki proposes that “Exercise is the single most transformative thing that you can do for your brain”.

There are three reasons that Dr. Suzuki states are the cause of brain transformation through exercise. First, exercise has immediate effects on your brain. The immediate effects include increased levels of positive mood chemicals in the brain. These positive mood chemicals are called neurotransmitters and afford you the ability to focus and shift attention for at least 2 hours post exercise. The second reason that exercise aides in brain health is the long term effect of exercise on the brain. Long term effects occur once cardiovascular function improves. When there is an improvement in cardiovascular function, brain anatomy changes and new brain cells are able to form in both the hippocampus and in the prefrontal cortex, which lead to improved memory and attention respectively. The final constructive attribute that exercise can do for the brain is provide protection. The more you exercise, the larger the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex can grow. This growth provides protection against the progression of diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Suzuki proposes that 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times per week with an aerobic component is enough to reap the benefits of exercise in the brain.

To learn more about the science behind exercise and the brain, tune in to Dr. Wendy Suzuki’s lecture at the link below. Exercise is an important component in total body health. To start protecting your brain, schedule an evaluation at the contact information above.

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