Boosting Brain Function with Exercise
It has been proven in various studies that exercise sharpens the intellect, apart from helping you lose weight. As age advances, the brain’s ability to comprehend and respond quickly declines; however, regular exercise can remarkably counteract this.
Research on the benefits of exercise
The theory has been asserted by a research study made by the Montreal Heart Institute. Doctors who worked on the research have discovered or at least further confirmed that exercise is not just good for the heart, but also for the brain. What makes the study unique is the method of the data collection and sample size of the group.
The report was presented in Toronto, at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. A group of overweight middle-aged adults , who were leading a sedentary lifestyle made up the test group. The group showed noticeable improvements in their cognitive abilities including; recollection, decision making and clarity of thoughts.
Apart from the benefits of improved brain responses, it is an established fact that exercise helps you lose weight. The study group of middle-aged participants had slimmed waist lines, increased body endurance and flexibility after the research on them.
Diabetologia, a medical journal published details of the research. The disease rates between physically active and inactive adult were compared. Those leading a sedentary lifestyle had a great risk of developing heart ailments, diabetes and other diseases.
How the research began?
Several people participated in the Le Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie, a well known event in Quebec, where groups of people cycle around the city to increase awareness on the benefits of physical activity. Some of these people volunteered to be research subjects, so the researchers had a chance to study regular people and perform tests on them.
The 6 team members, who were selected, did less physical activity and were overweight. The members underwent tests to record their cognitive skill abilities and oxygen consumption by their brains.
The course of the research
The exercise regime comprised of two high intensity, stationary cycling, interval training sessions, one long distance bike ride for an hour and two short, weight lifting sessions.
The interval training session involved pedaling to peak levels for half a minute, followed by rest for half a minute. The process was repeated for about 20 minutes. After being trained for four months, the group successfully managed a trek of 1000 kilometers.
The results of the research
Each of the participants lost at least 4 kilos and their waist lines reduced by 9 centimeters. The capacity to exercise was also remarkably increased as indicated by the maximum oxygen intake.
The drastic changes in the blood circulation to the brain was however surprising. In turn, this increased cognitive abilities. A strong correlation was noticed between the extent of weight loss and the cognitive abilities. The research confirmed that the fastest way to lose weight and improve brain speed was through exercise.
As the study was confined to a small group of 6 people, the researchers are now working on extending the same to a larger group. The researchers are however confident that the results will be just as impressive.
At least 30 minutes of brisk walk every day is recommended for a healthy adult. Canadian statistics revealed that an average adult in Canada spends nearly 70 percent of his time sitting and 30 percent, sleeping.
Research on rats
Japanese researchers had studied the effects of exercise on rats in two phases. In one phase, the rats performed a single bout of exercise and in another phase they were made to consistently exercise.
For the first phase, the rats were given a single session of treadmill exercise and then allowed food and rest. The glycogen levels in their brains that were responsible for cognitive functions were then examined.
The nutritional supplement was directly absorbed by the brain and the glycogen levels were much more than what it was before the workout. The increased levels however did not last more than a day.
In the second phase, the rats were made to continuously exercise for a stretch of 4 weeks. The glycogen levels drastically increased and were retained that way for a long span, thus enhancing their brain functions.
The glycogen detection process further asserts that exercise improves cognitive functions such as memory, reasoning and thinking. The findings are meaningful because they suggest that increased utility and storage of glycogen in the brain in the hippocampus and cortex regions is essential for a sharper, brighter brain.
Super compensation of glycogen after strenuous exercise is ideal for the brain. It means that protein powders and fitness supplements after prolonged exercise might be just what you need to boost brain functions.