Movement, Posture, Ergonomics, Mindset, Nutrition
EXERCISE and the BRAIN
We all know that exercise is good for us, and when we stick to it, we begin to feel the magic happening. Here’s a short list of the first things many people notice:
When we think of exercise, we usually think about building muscles, cardiovascular health, and maybe flexibility. But what if I told you that if we focus on the brain during exercise training, it can help with disease prevention? Exercise alone has so many benefits to our health and prevention of disease. Deepak Chopra describes the brain as a ‘human pharmacy’ because of its ability to create a multitude of hormones and chemicals which help our immune system to stay heathy, help our muscles, tissues and joints stay strong and keep us moving well. This all happens through the complicated interconnection of the various body systems (nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, lymphatic, muscular, and more).
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to develop new neural firing pathways via electrical synapses between neurons. When we move more, in different patterns, challenging different parts of the body in different ways, the nervous system must fire different pathways, which triggers different areas in the brain. The brain is a complex network and firing up the neurons lights up other areas of the brain that stimulate new growth, affecting more than just the connection to those particular muscles. When we do cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes (a brisk walk or any movement to get your heart rate elevated!), the brain easily produces BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), dopamine and many other neurotransmitter. Elevating the heart rate also keeps the heart and blood vessels fit.
While a brutal workout is not necessary for production of BDNF (Norman Doidge, 2007), higher exercise intensity and longer duration will cause increased production of BDNF.
So, why is BDNF so special? Thousands of research papers and books have been published about benefits of BDNF and it is often referred to as Miracle Grow for the Brain. Here are many reasons:
While aerobic exercise is the most effective way to produce BDNF, there are other ways, such as doing activities you like to do:
To learn more about exercises that stimulate the brain through challenging your balance, and focused mind-body movements, and breathing, join the STRONG BODY BALANCE community!