In our crazy busy lives where we hurtle through our days at breakneck speed, it’s easy to be lured into thinking that the best way to keep mentally sharp is by eating the latest touted super food, buying some expensive supplements or playing some brain games.
While these may have some moderate merit, the one thing that makes the biggest positive difference to how well our brain works, as shown by the research, is also the one thing that many of us choose to avoid, ignore or put off because we are too busy, tired or unaware of what we are missing out on.
One reason the human brain has evolved to be the magnificent organ it is has been attributed to movement. Humans have previously walked a lot, boosting the blood supply to our heads carrying the oxygen and nutrients needed by our energy hungry brain and stimulating the release of neurochemicals leading to an increase in our mood, the maintenance of our existing neurons and stimulating neurogenesis the production of new neurons.
As we have adapted to travelling less and less by foot power and sitting for more extended periods of time, this has had a deleterious effect not only on our physical health but our mental and cognitive health too.
The exponential development of the health and well being industry with gyms, fitness clubs and personal trainers over the last forty years or so reflects the understanding of how important exercise is to our physical health. Now the findings of the new brain science reveal that our level of thinking skills, imagination, creativity, insights and mental energy are all helped by moving more.
Studies have shown that kids who exercise regularly do better in class, achieve higher academic results, have fewer behavioural problems and are more resilient. The same goes for grown ups. We may choose not to run around the office block before work, but some form of huffy puffy exercise for 20-30 minutes at the beginning of the day – even if it’s running for the bus, primes us for better thinking.
Plus staying fit keeps our brain working better for us as we age. Studies have shown that those at risk of dementia or cognitive decline derive a degree of neuro-protection by exercising. Keeping all our marbles means keeping moving.
Regular physical activity doesn’t have to be a chore. If the thought of donning lycra and working out in a gym full of sweaty people also in lycra just doesn’t do it for you, there are a multitude of alternative ways to get moving.
In an ideal world making time (you won’t find it, it’s hidden) for exercise and moving more is an absolute no-brainer if you want to achieve more, work to your best and enjoy what life has to offer.
It’s about making exercise and moving part of your regular schedule, a habit that you look forward to and enjoy, made easier for us because exercise stimulates our levels of endorphins.
Check your daily schedule and book those exercise appointments. Choose something you think you might like and give it a go. It’s not about training for the Olympics, it’s about moving more and having fun at the same time – try walking, swimming, dancing, what ever takes your fancy. Start low with perhaps 10- 15 minutes three times a week and gradually extend the time until you are managing the recommended 150 minutes a week.
High performance starts with moving more.
Which exercise will you be choosing as your mental energy and cognitive booster?
Your High Performance Brain
DR JENNY BROCKIS is a medical practitioner, healthy brain advocate, and future mind planner. Her latest book Future Brain: The 12 Keys to Create Your High-Performance Brain is now available online and at all major retailers. Click here to purchase.
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