Exercise for your Brain

Physical activity isn’t just for your waist line; it can have a significant effect on your brain.

A minimum of 150 minutes per week (in bouts of 10 minutes or more) of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity (e.g. bike riding, jogging, swimming) can make beneficial changes to your brain:

  • growth of new blood vessels in the brain
  • increased number and health of brain cells
  • increased size of the areas of the brain responsible for memory, learning and thinking (i.e. hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and temporal cortex)
  • maintenance of neural connections and growth of new ones
  • reduced insulin resistance and inflammation

In addition to the physical changes to your brain, there are several secondary benefits:

  • improved mood and sleep and reduced stress and anxiety, which can cause or increase cognitive impairment and decrease morale and self-esteem
  • maintenance of strength, flexibility, balance and coordination, which reduces the risk of falls
  • increased cardiovascular health, which reduces the risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, cancer and hypertension

To help you achieve these benefits, consider the following simple changes:

  • choosing a variety of exercises
  • joining a team
  • limiting the time you spend on the TV or computer
  • forgoing taking your car in favor of walking or biking
  • replacing taking the elevator with taking the stairs

So get moving and exercise for your brain!

Written By: Anna Maine

Anna Maine graduated from the University of Alberta with a double major in English and Psychology. She currently works as an Office Administrator for an engineering company in Edmonton.