The rare benefit of exercise revealed by neuroscientists

Neuroscience shows once again that staying active as a lifestyle can significantly change the way we live. Forget about joining a gym for guilt or because it’s January. Find out why research suggests taking up exercise as a lifestyle choice. 

One of the best and most immediate benefits of breaking a sweat is combating stress brought on by chronic stressors we experience every day. Here is why: stress, anxiety, depression depletes levels of serotonin, noradrenalin, dopamine & endorphins and exercise increases these levels, hence boosting our moods immediately.

Neuroscientists have also demonstrated that exercise heightens our sense of focus and attention. So you should get in a workout ahead of time of big presentations or meetings to maximise those brain functions and get yourself in a ‘peak-state’.

One of the best neuroscience-based motivation for exercise has to be its effects on the hippocampus which is critical for long-term memory. As a number of studies have shown that increased levels of physical exercise can result in improved memory by enhancing both the renewal and the survival of new hippocampal brain cells.

The build up of the numbers of healthy young brain cells means that “the longer and more regularly you exercise through your life, the lower your chances are of suffering from cognitive decline and dementia as you age. This has to be one of the most profound long-term benefits of exercise on the brain”. Truly remarkable. 

Exercise’s ability to brighten our mood, decrease stress, and improve our attention span and memory would also help students to better absorb everything from history lessons to chemistry experiments and would make adults more creative, productive and they would be a lot happier too. 

So exercise as a lifestyle choice, rather than a guilt driven fab and actually stick to it, not just to get healthier and less stressed, but to also avoid debilitating cognitive decline. This could save society billions as we enter old age. This problem is even more relevant for countries with particularly large aging populations, including the UK, Japan and Germany.

If regular exercise becomes routine for the vast majority of children and adults, we could have a population that’s not only healthier and less stressed, but also more productive” says Suzuki.

In fact, W. A Suzuki’s lab is focusing on identifying how exercise can optimise brain function for people of all ages, fitness levels and abilities. In these ways, neuroscience gives us a framework to understand exercise as a key for better education, increased productivity and combating cognitive decline. 

And remember, children learn by example, so if you want them to be active, lead the way! 

Ladies and Gentlemen. Make a lifestyle choice. Get moving.

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