When the majority of people work out they are looking to tone their body with brain health and memory not even being an after thought. As the weather gets warmer seems like more people are getting on the band wagon in hopes of getting that beach bod in time for summer. If that's you or if your a beast and don’t take time off from working out then you are actually getting more benefit than just a fit bod. Most people know of the benefits of exercise on the heart and cardiovascular system. Even the benefit of lowering insulin sensitivity, but research is now showing a new benefit! The benefits that I am referring to has to do with the brain. Low levels of physical fitness correlate to lowering of brain tissue volumes or said simpler, brain shrinkage.
Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor
Studies are starting to show exercise increases the level of a protein called Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is essential for the upkeep and maintenance of neurons as well as the generation of new neurons (neurogenesis). BDNF plays a major role in the formation and storage of memories. It is also a regulator of brain plasticity. Studies are showing that people with the highest amounts of BDNF have the best functioning brains. A couple of correlations should be taken into account when setting up a workout routine focusing on increasing BDNF. First is that there seems to be a bigger impact with exercise that is considered high intensity (reaching at least 65% to 70% of one’s maximum heart rate) and aerobic in nature. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a perfect for anyone looking to take advantage of these benefits. HIIT allows you to reach the desired intensity and it doesn't take much time. If you are unfamiliar with HIIT, Google it to get started.
Pumping iron shouldn’t be the only focus, unless its focused on the legs which brings us to our next correlation. “Leg strength was a better predictor of brain health than any other lifestyle factor looked at in the study”. This was the result of a study from King’s Collage London and published in the journal Gerontology. Forgetting things like peoples names or where you left the keys a little to often? I would pick up the practice of running or start doing squats and using kettle bells. Get out there and start moving, and remember its for your brain! Don't worry the running will help you remember.
Spark The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
Another resource on the subject is the book “Spark The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain". The author touches on some of the information touched on here, but also discusses other benefits. These benefits include fighting depression, lessening anxiety, and improving focus to name a few. The most intriguing parts of the book is about a school in Naperville Illinois that has a daily morning routine that is fitness based. This has resulted in only 3% of its 1,900 students being in the obese category. The school also takes the Trends in International Math and Science Study(TIMSS). This is a test to see how the countries' schools rank amongst one another and see their improvement in the categories of math and science. The US as a whole places in the double digits (with 2015 being our best rank yet placing 10th place in the science section). This school when looked at individually ranks number 1 in science and number 6 in math of any school in the world!
Product Recommendations Relating to BDNF:
In conclusion we should all be getting out and moving more. Finding time to workout can be hard. Luckily there are a few other things that have been shown to increase levels of BDNF. Although I wouldn't use this as an excuse not to exercise. These include cacao and ashwaganda, both found in the mBreakfast shake. Turmeric has been shown to increase this vital protein as well. It is the premier ingredient in our mTurmeric. These are both on the online store. mFocus and Relax contains an herb that increases BDNF, bacopa monnieri. This item can be picked up at our award winning wellness
Say YES to your health!
- Ratey, J. J., & Hagerman, E. (2013). Spark: the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. New York: Little, Brown.