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Exercise and Brain Health

October 13 is National Train your Brain Day!

We’ve known for years the benefits of exercise from a physical perspective. From weight loss to bone density, and cardiovascular health to lowering blood pressure, there is no denying that exercise is good for our health. Recently, studies have shown that there is a link between aerobic activity and academic performance as well as brain health. Keep reading to find out more!

Increased focus and improved learning – Exercise increases blood flow to the body and brain, giving more energy and more oxygen to those areas and enhancing performance. The hippocampus, the part of the brain critical for learning and memory is also highly stimulated during exercise. Getting in 20 minutes of exercise before studying can help your brain focus and remember what you’ve just learned.

Decreased loss of memory – Recent studies indicate aerobic exercise can reverse hippocampal shrinkage that occurs naturally with age and consequently boost memory in older adults.

Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s – Exercise helps to increase chemicals that protect the brain, as well as decrease levels of tau - a protein associated with Alzheimer’s. People who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in mental health and have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown the impact exercise can have on Alzheimer related changes in the brain cannot be rivalled by any medication that is currently approved.

Improved mood – Exercise triggers your brain and body to release endorphins, or feel-good hormones, which help to improve your mood, and can lower stress levels and anxiety.

Decreased depression – Although exercise can’t cure depression, it can help to relieve symptoms. Low-intensity exercise sustained long-term has been shown to release proteins called neurotrophic or growth factors, which aid in nerve cell growth and connection. Those with depression often have a smaller hippocampus – the area of the brain that controls mood – the increase in nerve cells from exercise is what can aid in decreasing depression symptoms long term.

How much exercise should you aim for?

It’s recommended that adults get a minimum of:

· 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, that’s 30 minutes 5 days a week.

· 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week, that’s 15 minutes 5 days a week.

· Or a combination of both.

Remember something is better than nothing, even a 10-minute walk will give you some of the benefits listed above! If you’re new to exercising, start small and work your way up to the exercise minutes listed above.

If you don’t know where to start or how to improve your activity level, we are here to help.

We offer a wide range of activities for you to choose from with flexible pass cards and memberships.

If you have questions on exercise and the brain, contact one of our Health & Fitness professionals today at

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