How Exercise Trains The Brain
John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of A User’s Guide to the Brain. “Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.”
Here’s something we can all relate to, that’s if you’re over 40. What was the best part of the day in school?
It was RECESS. Well for me it was the highlight of my day.
Getting out there and burning off energy, avoiding the school bully (that was a workout all in its self).
But for some reason most school systems have cut out recess and exercise, which makes no sense to me.
Ask any teacher who is still in the field and they can tell you the difference they see in the kids that they taught who had recess and exercise as part of the curriculum and the ones that now don’t.
And it shows. Kids are more hyper, less focused and their concentration is diminished.
Stephen C. Putnam, Med wrote a book, titled Nature’s Ritalin for the Marathon Mind, about the benefits of exercise.
And he outlines studies of children who ran around for 15 to 45 minutes before class it cut their hyper behavior by half when they got to class. As with most exercise, the effects were relatively lasting — smoothing out behavior two to four hours after the exercise.
Stephen also points to some preliminary animal research that suggests that exercise can cause new stem cells to grow, refreshing the brain and other body parts.
Christin Anderson, MS, is the wellness and fitness coordinator of the University of San Francisco and was the Exercise Physiologist at Mt. Zion/UCSF Hospital.
And she explains that exercise affects many areas within our nervous system and sets off pleasure chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that make us feel calm, happy, and euphoric.
So instead of waiting for something good to happen so you can feel those good feelings you can bring them on anytime you want by simply exercising.
Anderson says, “When one exercises you can think more clearly, perform better, and your morale is better. This is pure science — stimulate your nervous system and function at a higher level.”
How to train your brain:
Anderson says a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, hiking, or swimming, three times a week.
A half an hour to an hour, four to five times a week would be even better. For those who want to be REALLY on the ball, 90 minutes five to six times a week would not be out of line, she says.
Anderson recommends two sessions a day for this purpose, rather than one big heaving workout. “Swim for 20 minutes in the morning, then walk at night,” she advises. “Right after hard, intense exercise, you may not be as acute. Overtraining can set off enzymes that can lead to fatigue, which is the enemy of alertness.”
Anderson also says the type of exercise you select depends on your personality. It may be the opposite of what you’d expect. “If you’re a 32-year-old male, work 70 hours a week, play ball twice on the weekend and jog daily,” she says, “you may need to do some yoga to improve your mental acuity.”
Some coaches, she points out actually have to get people to relax to find their “edge.” Meditation can also be a great complement to exercise, she adds. Then: “Do what you enjoy. That’s important.”
As online marketers we are parked in front of our computers more than most people, so having a regular exercise routine is an absolute must.
And as you have just found out not only is exercise great for your health it’s great for your brain.
So start exercising your brain your body will love you for it.