Exercise is an amazing thing. Studies keep coming out that discover new ways that exercise benefits our bodies, and more recently, our minds.
Exercise will keep our brain healthy. Exercise will improve brain function. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which results in more oxygen to the brain. Increased oxygen to the brain perks you up and increases alertness. The main purpose of yawning is to increase oxygen in the brain.
Exercise will also make you more alert, more aware and awake. Exercise will put you in a good mood for the day and will decrease depression. There have been multiple studies performed on school age children testing them before and after physical activity. The results are astounding.
Test scores consistently went up after physical activity. There is a large correlation between increasing physical activity and increasing brain function. This led the author of the book “Spark” (a book about the effects of exercise on brain function), James Ratay, to refer to exercise as “miracle grow for the brain”.
A fascinating new study on the effects of exercise and brain function recently came out of Finland. This study compared twins who exercised and those who did not. What they found was that twins who exercised had more grey matter in their brains then their twin who did not exercise.
“We were somewhat surprised that so clear change in brain structure occurred ass a result of differences in exercising during adulthood, as the exercise habits of there twin pairs were similar during childhood,” said Dr. Urho Kujala, a professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, who ran the study, told the Huffington Post.
On average, the active twins were getting 3 hours more per week of jogging versus their more sedentary counterparts. The researchers looked at body composition, insulin levels, and brain scans.
The researchers found that the more active twin had less body fat, healthier insulin levels, and larger volumes of gray matter in the brain. Grey matter is extremely important in central nervous system functioning. Grey matter is involved in muscle control and sensory perception. This includes, but is not exclusive to: seeing, hearing, memory, speech, decision making, and self-control.
This can have major ramifications as we age. The neuro-musculo-skeletal trigger point technique that I perform utilizes the grey matter of the spinal cord. When a muscle spasms for a long period, it will send increased sensory information into the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, specifically the grey matter of the substantial gelantinosa of Orlando. The neuro-musculo-skeletal trigger point technique that I practice decreases the sensory information into the spinal cord and re-programs the muscles to get them out of the neurological patterns of spasm and inflammation that they can fall into.
If you have more grey matter, you will be able to process and react to the world around you at a quicker rate. It will allow you to maintain your agility and balance, and maintain activity levels as you age. If you want to age more gracefully, then exercise.
This reinforces what Time Magazine said a few years ago: The only fountain of youth we have is exercise and nutrition.
This study was published in the Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise journal, published in March of 2015.
This study reinforces others that have proven how regular exercise benefits brain health.
One of the ways that exercise benefits the brain is that it increases blood flow, and therefore oxygen, to the brain. The reason why yawning wakes you up is because it floods the brain with oxygen very quickly. It perks you up. Increasing blood flow to the brain through exercise is a good way to keep yourself awake and alert.
Exercising in the morning before work is a great way to boost productivity. I feel that it is also the most reliable and realistic way to fit exercising into your lifestyle. If you wait to exercise until later in the day, 8 out of 10 times something will come up that will prevent you from exercising.
There have been numerous times when I got my biking stuff together, drove to a park, got onto my bike and rode 5 minutes into a trail only to get a phone call and have to turn right around and have to pick up my children. It happens. Life happens. Realistically it will be easier for you to fit exercise in, in the morning.
Exercising during lunchtime will prevent the midafternoon energy crash that so many of us experience. Exercise is a great way to boost energy levels.
Consistent exercising and healthy eating is the best thing, hands down, that anyone can do for their health. If you are in pain, or over 50, it can be hard to know what exercise system will be easy on your body so that you don’t get injured from exercising. That way you can stick with the exercising long enough to get some benefit out of it.
It is also important to note that in order to benefit from exercising you have to stick with it long term. That is why I recommend going easy with your exercising. The world is hard enough on us, don’t go any harder on it. You will get more health benefits from walking 30 minutes 3 times a week for the rest of your life than you will from exercising hard for months, then injuring yourself, then having to stop for months, then starting back into exercise. This cycle can repeat itself for life.
I designed Pain Free Lifestyle to be easy on your body so that you can perform it for years without injury. If you are in pain, it is for you. If you are overweight, it is for you. If you haven’t exercised in years, then it is for you.
Go easy on yourself, life is not. That, is the Pain Free Way.
Here are 2 other articles that I wrote on exercise and brain health: