Effects of Exercise

This entry is part 13 of 17 in the series Best Practices in Brain Training

Move it or loose it

The ancient assumption that there is a positive relationship between mental and physical fitness has now been validated through studies that have demonstrated that the decline in cognitive functioning among adults can be slowed by appropriate physical fitness (OECD, 2007). Exercise jump-starts neuroplasticity and neurogenesis by pumping more oxygen to the brain (Arden, 2010), which stimulates the development of axons that carry information between neurons. People who exercise develop more axons, hence “move it or lose it”. There is a direct relationship between the number of axons and intelligence. Aerobic exercise promotes a state of alertness, facilitates recall, and results in improved and faster reaction time (Howard, 2006). Meta-analysis research has shown that an increase in aerobic fitness can improve the cognitive performance of both clinical and non-clinical adults (OECD, 2007).

In order to stimulate the brain, aerobic exercise must be nonstop for an average duration of 30 minutes and performed five times weekly at a comfortable pace. Exercises targeting the muscles of the lower body are highly recommended, such as running, bicycling, jogging, brisk walking, distance swimming, skating, jumping rope, rowing, treadmill and dancing (Howard, 2006). Arden (2010) noted that research has demonstrated that: “exercise is one of the easiest ways to promote neuroplasticity and neurogenesis (p. 55).

 

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