started exercising regularly for the first time during the most challenging years of my medical training. I found that, after hours of sitting at the desk studying, working out for 30-60 mins significantly boosted my mood and concentration. Many studies have been done in recent years on brain health benefits from exercise. In addition to helping with weight loss and physiological health, exercise literally makes you feel and think better.
Studies on this topic have demonstrated many benefits of brain health from exercise; these are some highlights:
- Brain waves (reflections of brain activity) change to a more active form and higher frequency during exercise.
- The visual cortex is invigorated by exercising, giving you sharpened perception.
- Brain consumes glucose and carbohydrates when the body is in motion to build neurotransmitters like glutamate, serotonin, and GABA that regulate your mood.
- Neurogenesis—especially in the hippocampus, an area of brain that regulates memory.
- Exercise increases BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which keeps the neurons healthy allowing your brain cells to deliver strong electrical signals, connectivity and memory.
- Exercise alleviates depression and other psychiatric conditions.
Our brain powerfully integrates our decision-making, execution, motivation and sensation of wellness. Our brain thrives on regular exercise, including weightlifting, cardio, walks, outdoor activities and sports. If you do not have an exercise routine or if you are new to the fitness side of wellness, I encourage you to start slow, try something you may enjoy. For example: strive to go for a walk 4x/week, begin by walking 15 mins each time, then increase the duration as you feel stronger. Long-lasting results come from developing healthy habits that you can maintain, this is not a race but a journey to better health.