Regular Exercise Can Increase Brain Size

Want a bigger brain? Time to get moving…literally.  Recent studies show evidence that those who participate in regular exercise have larger brain sizes.

The harsh reality is that as we get older, our brains get smaller. However, it is possible to change what could become a reality in 20-30 years from now.  Don’t wait until you have issues to make some changes.  Instead, be proactive about your brain health.

We often don’t think about what’s going on in our brain until something isn’t working right. After all, what exactly is brain health?   Brain health refers to our ability to concentrate, learn, and have an active, clear mind (visit www.brainhealth.gov for more info).

We now know through science that our brains can change.  It’s called brain plasticity.  Our brains have the ability to adapt to our environments and experiences.  The brain forms neural pathways according to the demands they face.  Between the ages of 10-30, complex reasoning, creativity, and long-term memory functions peak.  In our 30’s our brain cells start to decline and shrink. By our 40’s-50’s, short-term memory begins to decline. Our brain is like a muscle, therefore, the more we use it the better we feel.

So what can you do now?

1. Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Our brains are largely comprised of fatty tissue. Omega-3 fatty acids help to form neurons, aid in neuron structures, protect from oxidative damage, and can reduce inflammation. Adding omega-3 fatty acids into your diet can help to prevent the effects of aging and brain degeneration.

2. Make it a point to do puzzles, try new things, be social, learn new concepts, or do other activities that stimulate brain activity.  Using your brain to think through problems, do basic math, or challenge current abilities helps to keep the brain sharp.

3. Exercise regularly.  There is a lot of research that supports brain growth with physical activity.  Quality movement is essential for our physical bodies, heart condition, and brain health. Make a goal to move for at least 30 minutes a day.

For further reading on the topic, check out this article done by CNN.

 

Lisa Eichelberger

NASM Personal Trainer


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