We all know that there are numerous benefits of exercise. A regular amount of exercise daily not only helps you lose weight, tones your body, and keeps you fit, but it also helps you to enhance your brain function! Exercise can increase the size of your brain, improve cognitive function, increase synaptic plasticity, and also prevent you from the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines of 2018 for Americans that one should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week i.e almost 20 minutes of exercise daily, to get the maximum benefits of exercise.
After the age of 30, the size of the brain starts decreasing and there is a loss of gray matter and white matter. The hippocampus is the brain responsible for memory and learning. The volume of the hippocampus decreases with age causing memory issues in the elderly. A study in 2016 found that 6 weeks of aerobic exercise daily could increase the volume of the hippocampus. However, the volume of the increased hippocampus could return back to baseline levels in the absence of exercise. Hence, it is important to exercise daily to get the maximum benefits of exercise and increase the size of your brain.
Synaptic plasticity is the process of strengthening some connections while weakening other connections between neurons, to allow for better communication, learning, and memory and BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is an important factor for maintaining synaptic plasticity. A regular amount of exercise daily increases the levels of BDNF in the brain. Without the production of BDNF, the brain will not get the benefits of exercise and will lose plasticity.
A regular schedule of exercise daily has many benefits of exercise including increasing the resistance of neural cells and tissues to oxidative stress, increasing blood supply and vascularization to the brain, increasing energy metabolism and the synthesis of various nerve growth factors called neurotrophins, that lead to neurogenesis, improved memory and increased the synaptic and brain plasticity, thus preventing Alzheimer’s Disease. Higher levels of exercise and exercise daily are also associated with an in increased size of prefrontal cortex and thus increased cognitive function
Benefits of exercise include the release of higher levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are important in uplifting mood and higher levels can reduce the risk of depression, hence a regular amount of exercise daily can prevent you from getting depression.
If you feel lazy or not motivated enough to exercise daily, remember that the benefits of exercise are numerous and it can make you physically and mentally more productive. In this period of lockdown, most of us are confined in our homes, but this should not be an excuse to avoid exercise. Simple aerobics exercise in your house itself can be very beneficial to your body and brain. You should not only exercise daily yourself but also encourage everyone in your household to exercise along with you so that everyone gets the benefits of exercise and creates a physically fit and mentally sharp family!