How Exercise Can Boost Brain Health

“Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind you have to convince.”

Brain lifting barbell. Mind power concept.

In my quest to battle back against seizures and my diagnosis of epilepsy, I have made a commitment to better physical health. Recently, both my husband and I have joined a great local gym and built an individual workout plan for each of us that caters to both health and fitness on a maximum level. If you would like to build a workout plan for yourself, check out Bodybuilding.com and create an individual plan that will work best for you!

Physical exercise is not only important for your body’s health- it also helps your brain stay sharp. Your brain is no different than rest of the muscles in your body. You either use it or you lose it. You go to the gym to stimulate the growth of muscle cells, just as you use a brain fitness program to increase connections in your brain. But you can actually get an additional brain boost by donning your running shoes and hitting the gym. The benefits of physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, have positive effects on brain function in a multitude of ways, ranging from the molecular to behavioral level. According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even exercising for 20 minutes helps information processing and memory functions.

Exercise affects the brain on many different levels. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also helps the bodily release of a plethora of hormones, all of which participate in aiding and providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.

Exercise stimulates the brain flexibility by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in a wide range of important cortical areas of the brain. Recent research from UCLA demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain, making it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.

A behavioral perspective found, the same antidepressant-like effects associated with “runner’s high” seen in humans is associated with a drop in stress hormones. A study from Stockholm showed that the antidepressant effect of running was also associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Deciding The Right Physical Exercise

  • What is good for your heart is great for your brain.
  • Aerobic exercise is great for body and brain: This will improve brain function, and also acts as your repair kit on damaged brain cells.
  • Exercising in the morning before starting your day not only spikes brain activity and prepares you for mental stresses for the rest of the day, but also produces an increase of new information, and better reaction to complex situations.
  • When looking to mix up your workout, look for an activity that includes coordination along with cardio exercise, such as a dance class!
  • If you like crunching time at the gym solely, opt for circuit work outs, which both quickly spike your heart rate, but also constantly redirect your attention.
  • Exhausted or mentally worn out? Rejuvenate with a couple of jumping jacks for your brain enhancement exercises.

I have dedicated myself to physical fitness before and have absolutely fallen in love with it. It really does so much good for your mind, body and soul. Now, with this plan, I’m simply taking it up another notch. It’s important to choose a plan that is right for you. Whatever you can do that is good for the body and good for the soul, do it. Don’t think twice. Your body will thank you for it and you will be glad you decided you went for it.

Questions For The Reader 

  • Do you have a different workout method that is working for you in your journey with epilepsy?
  • Where do you enjoy exercising the most?
  • What are your favorite types of exercise?
  • Do you have an exercise role model?
  • Has exercise helped with your seizure activity?

I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!

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