Last time I wrote about a couple of studies that illustrated the benefits of exercise on cognition. This month, as promised, I outline 6 reasons why exercise is the most important thing we can do for our brain.

1. Creates new neurons in the hippocampus

We used to think that we were born with all the brain cells we would ever have. Science has now shown that idea was wrong. Exercise actually facilitates the production of neurons in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. So it makes sense that the more neurons we have in the hippocampus, the better.

2. Increases the number of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) in our brains

BDNF is very good for our brain. It is necessary for cell repair, and increases nerve cell growth.

3. Improves blood flow to the brain

Even though the brain makes up only 2-3% of our body weight, is uses 20% of the oxygen we take in. Since oxygen reaches our brain through blood flow, exercise increases the amount of oxygen our brain gets.

4. Regulates our blood sugar levels

Around the age of 50 our body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels decreases. High blood sugar levels leads to the formation of sticky proteins that block blood flow. Exercise improves our body’s ability to control blood sugar for 24 hours after we finish.

5. Reduces stress

Long-term chronic stress is not good for us. I talked more about why 2 newsletters ago. Look under “Just Breathe” in my brain health blog if you want to read more.

6. Is good for our mental health!

A recent article found that just 20 minutes of exercise a week reduces levels of depression and anxiety. On the website it is written that as little as 10 to 15 minutes of exercise can make a difference in depression.

To tell you the truth, there are more than 6 reasons why exercise is good for our brain, but I will stop here. Rest assured, I will revisit exercise in future newsletters. In the meantime, find a way to get your blood pumping that you enjoy, so you will actually keep doing it!

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