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Exercise your body and your brain at the same time. What could that possibly mean? Read on.
This is the time of year when we have set our New Year’s resolutions. For many people, that includes a healthier lifestyle. Often that includes exercising.
Exercise is one of those things that we all know is good for us. But it’s that motivation that really needs to kick in to make it happen. And that can be hard, especially if you tend to like more cerebral activities than physical ones.
Researchers are now recognizing that when you engage in cardiovascular exercise, you’re benefitting not only your body, but your brain. It’s a double whammy! A two-for-one deall!
Stanford Health Psychologist, Melissa McGonigal writes:
I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) and a guest said, “If you want to improve the strength of your body, you exercise your body. If you want to improve the strength and health of your brain, you should exercise your brain.”
It turns out that you should flip that around: if you want to increase the health and strength of your brain, you should exercise your body.
There is probably more evidence for this than for almost any other recommendation that I make – the idea that physical exercise, particularly exercise that elevates the heart rate – cardio respiratory fitness – increases the density of the prefrontal cortex as well as the function of the prefrontal cortex.
It is not very clear why physical exercise seems to target the prefrontal cortex so much, but researchers think it has something to do with the fact that the prefrontal cortex uses more energy than other parts of the brain.
When you engage in physical exercise, it is teaching the brain and the body how to use energy more efficiently…If you want to make your prefrontal cortex bigger and stronger, you really should prioritize physical health and physical activity.
Instead of doing mental exercises daily, now you can have some fun exercising and getting results in two areas of your life: a stronger and healthier body, and a stronger and healthier brain. How sexy is that?