It is no secret that exercise is great for your body, but did you know that working out has huge benefits for your brain?
A recent study shows that both mental and physical training can vastly improve the way the brain functions.
Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth have concluded that aerobic activity actually helps to strengthen memory. They also found that cognitive training helps improve overall functions such as cognitive flexibility, problem solving, planning, and inhibitory control.
In the study, adults were split into two different groups: one that focused on physical training and one that focused on cognitive training. Those in the cognitive group received what is known as Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART), which focuses on integrative reasoning, attention, and innovation. The physical group was asked to work out for an hour three times a week.
Throughout the study, researchers measured the participants’ physiological, neurocognitive, and MRI data before, during, and after each training session.
The results were very interesting. Among the cognitive training group, researchers saw increased cerebral blood flow, which they attributed to the SMART sessions. These particular results were not seen in the physical group, but those participants showed more cerebral blood flow in the memory sections of their brain.
The study indicates that getting regular exercise may improve memory function and help stave off dementia. In other words, in order to improve brain health, you should be working out.
If you are not already working out on a regular basis, this study should help you get a little more motivated. After all, what good is a great-looking body without the brain to go with it – or vice versa?
Keep in mind that you do not have to head to the gym every single day in order to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, you do not have to go to the gym at all. There are lots of ways to stay active; take a walk every night after dinner or ride your bicycle to work in the mornings. If you love yoga, why not do a 15-minute session in the morning before work and another later in the afternoon?
The trick is to love what you are doing. That way, it will not feel like work and you will be more apt to stick to it. Once you get started, your body – and your brain – will thank you!