Table of contents:
- Brain rescue - in motion
- Workout number 1
- Workout number 2
- Workout number 3
- Workout number 4
- More exercise - better grades?
- The aging process of the brain can be stopped
- How should you practice in order to achieve maximum results?
Video: How To Exercise To Help Your Brain Get More Creative, Think Faster, And Stop Fidgeting - Self-development
Brain rescue - in motion
The simplest recipe for keeping the brain in working shape is laid down in the title of the book by Anders Hansen, which became a world bestseller - "Run, Brain, Run!" Anders Hansen, on the basis of numerous experiments, was convinced of the power of influence on the development of the smartest human organ of simple physical exercises.
The author reminds us that throughout their history people have had to move a lot in order to survive.
Movement is necessary not only for our body, but also for the brain. Its extraordinary neuroplasticity is supported by movement and at the same time serves as a springboard for development.
So, we begin to train our brain using the recommendations of the research scientist
Workout number 1
Purpose: Relieve stress and anxiety
What to do? Aerobic exercise for 30-45 minutes daily
It is better to start with aerobic exercise, since in terms of dealing with stress, they are more effective than strength training. Exercise for at least 20 minutes, but if you have enough stamina, then for 30-45 minutes. Make exercise a habit, because you will only get the expected effect over time. You have to wait until the cerebral "brake pedals", hippocampus and frontal lobe become stronger. Try to raise your heart rate at least two to three times a week.
Set a goal to exercise until you feel tired once a week. This can be achieved, for example, with interval training. There is ample evidence for their effectiveness in fighting anxiety.
Start slowly and gradually increase the load if you have previously experienced panic attacks or severe episodes of anxiety, as too much exercise can provoke anxiety
If for some reason you can't raise your heart rate, just go for a walk. This can also help you deal with anxiety better, although walking is not as effective as more active body movements.
Physical activity raises levels of dopamine, the hormone of joy, and tune the system for attention and reward. It is now known that dopamine levels rise after exercise. It rises a few minutes after the end of the activity and stays at this level for several hours, which allows you to stay focused and calm. You feel better and it becomes easier for you to concentrate. You will feel better every time you work out, as dopamine has a positive effect on your overall well-being, and you will notice that it becomes easier and easier to concentrate.
Exercise is an effective way to improve concentration without any side effects
You've probably heard that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of many diseases, but the fact is that physical inactivity has even more unpleasant consequences: it makes a person think worse and slower. American scientists have followed 3200 young people for 25 years. During this time, they recorded information about how physically active the subjects were and how much time they spent in front of the TV. In addition, they were asked to take various psychological tests to test their memory, concentration and thinking speed.
Tests showed that subjects who were sedentary were less able to concentrate and remember information, and also thought more slowly. The difference was huge. Especially striking were the results of those who sat for extended periods and watched television for at least three hours a day.
An overly passive lifestyle not only leads to a decrease in concentration and the occurrence of anxiety and depression, but also reduces the speed of your thinking, which is associated with the negative impact of such a lifestyle on cognition.
Train in the morning. To improve your concentration, it is best to exercise early in the morning or at least before noon so that the effects of your workout last the rest of the day
Practice for 30 minutes, if you can. Your workout should be at least 20 minutes long, but if you want to get the most out of it, it's best to extend it.
Many studies show that even walking is beneficial for preventing depression. Just 20-30 minutes of daily walking can improve a person's well-being.
Studies in Finland, Japan, and South Africa have shown that people who exercise systematically tend to be less cynical and nervous. They also have better contact with people in their environment. This was also confirmed in a Dutch study of about 20,000 pairs of twins. Those who exercised twice a week were more socially open and less nervous.
Workout number 2
Purpose: to help cope with fatigue
What to do? Jogging for 30-40 minutes 3 times a week
Serotonin and dopamine play an important role not only in how you feel: variations in levels of these substances in different people may be related to differences in character traits. Dopamine, for example, is associated with curiosity and the desire to try new things, while serotonin is associated with compromise and nervousness.
Are you feeling tired and discouraged without being depressed? Then go jogging! Running or any other physical activity that makes your heart rate faster can work wonders if you do it regularly and for a long time. You should keep the following in mind:
Run three times a week for 30-40 minutes. The intensity should be at least 70% of your maximum oxygen consumption. A workout that is done at "normal" speed will also work, but you still need to be hot.
Cycling or any other form of aerobic activity is a good alternative to running. What matters is the intensity and duration of the workout, not how you train and where. Train for at least three weeks.
Workout number 3
Goal: will significantly improve memory
What to do? Combine physical activity and learning new information
Regular cardio training will not only help you to transform outwardly, become healthier, but also significantly improve your memory.
Physical activity has a positive effect on memory. However, if you want to get the most out of your memory, then you should move and learn at the same time, for example, learn something while you are walking on a treadmill. Do not forget about this, although, of course, this is not always possible.
It is not known why people who learn during exercise are better at remembering information. Perhaps this is due to the fact that during movement, blood flow improves not only to the muscles, but also to the brain. When more blood is supplied to the brain, memory starts to work better.
What else influences the regeneration of brain cells?
In addition to exercise, sex, a low-calorie diet (not fasting), and flavonoids, such as those found in dark chocolate, are needed to accelerate neurogenesis. A decrease in the rate of neurogenesis can be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption and excess fat in the diet (especially saturated fats, which are found in, say, butter and cheese).
If you want to strengthen your memory, then you need to be physically active. It doesn't really matter what kind of loads you choose.
If you want to strengthen all areas of memory and remember well not only the words you read, but also the places where you put things away, you should combine training, that is, combine aerobic exercise with strength training
However, if you still need to choose between them, then it is better to give preference to cardio, as they are more useful for memory.
The fact that both the hippocampus and the frontal lobe are strengthened through exercise means that exercise should improve the functioning of many areas of the brain. Possibly, physical activity improves both short-term (when you remember information for a few minutes or hours) and long-term memory.
Train before you start learning, or learn while you train. Don't go overboard; walking or jogging is enough. Exercise regularly
Of course, you will notice an improvement in memory after the first workout, but if you are patient and exercise regularly for several months, your memory will improve much more.
Workout number 4
Purpose: to help develop creativity
What to do? Walk regularly
Through recent research, we've got scientific evidence that physical activity enhances creativity. One of the most interesting was organized by scientists from Stanford University. The researchers asked 176 subjects to take multiple tests of creativity, with some taking tests after walking and others after resting.
The study's title, “Get Your Ideas Back on Their Feet: The Positive Effects of Walking on Creative Thinking,” gives some insight into its findings. Four out of five subjects performed better on tests when they took them on the go. The difference was quite significant: the results of those who walked, on average, were 60% better than those who sat still, especially with regard to the ability to participate in brainstorming and come up with new ideas. However, convergent thinking, the ability to look for a single correct answer or common denominator, did not improve with walking.
Study co-author Marili Opezzo said: "We are not claiming that walks will transform you into a modern Michelangelo, but they will help you get through the early stages of the creative process." However, you should not train to exhaustion either, since this will not benefit your creativity.
More exercise - better grades?
How exercise affects children's brains
The most compelling evidence that physical activity improves academic performance comes not from an Ivy League university in America, but from Bunkeflo, near the Swedish southern region of Skåne. Scientists observed two elementary school classes whose students were engaged in physical activity daily. Another class in the same school, whose students had the usual two physical education lessons a week, was used as a control group.
Children who played sports every day started getting better grades in physical education, but this is not unusual. Surprisingly, their grades improved in mathematics, Swedish and English, although they did not take additional classes in these subjects. At the same time, the effect lasted for many years: although these children had additional physical education only in primary school, many of them graduated from the ninth grade with good marks. In overweight children, the situation was exactly the opposite: the fuller the child was, the worse his academic success was. The assertion that overweight children are smart, and active ones are too frivolous, turned out to be absolutely groundless.
In Nebraska, a study involving nearly 10,000 people showed that physically fit children performed better in math and English than those who were not very athletic.
So how can physical education improve a child's success in mathematics and foreign languages? As you read in the chapter on memory, exercise stimulates the growth of the hippocampus (our center for memory and emotional control) in physically active adults. This seems to apply to children too.
When the brains of ten-year-old children were examined using MRI, it turned out that the subjects in good physical shape had a larger hippocampus! Thus, one of the most important areas of the brain is larger in physically active children.
This finding goes hand-in-hand with the fact that physically fit children perform better on memory tests. So, exercise leads to an increase in the hippocampus in size and improved memory
The results were amazing! Teenagers who jogged for just 12 minutes had improved reading comprehension and visual attention. At the same time, the effect of jogging lasted almost an hour. Surprisingly, as little as four minutes of activity (yes, you read that right!) Can improve focus and help keep 10-year-olds out of distraction. One short vigorous training session can improve brain function in children.
Physical activity during childhood has positive consequences not only in terms of academic success and good executive control. Active children become more resistant to stress.
Children who walked a large number of steps per day were not under as much stress as their peers who moved less
This was evident not only in their calmer behavior: when the subjects solved problems for a while and gave presentations, the level of the stress hormone cortisol in physically active children did not rise as much as in children with a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. This is undeniable proof that active children are more resistant to stress.
When all the pieces of one puzzle fit together, the amazing effect that training has on children's brains becomes apparent. At the same time, both short-term and long-term results can be traced.
Just one workout improves attention span and reading comprehension, which can last from one to several hours. Like adults, children will experience the long-term benefits of exercise if they exercise regularly for several months.
The type of activity, again, does not really matter. Running, playing, tennis and soccer all have the same positive effects on children. The main thing is that their heart rate is faster. It doesn't matter what children do to be physically active, only the fact of being active is important.
Using a series of cognitive tests, the researchers found that seventh graders who stood while studying improved their concentration, working memory and executive control. These tests assessed the qualities that are necessary to get high marks: the ability to understand the text read, remember facts and solve problems in several actions. The difference was striking: the test results showed an average improvement of 10%.
The conclusion is simple: we think better when we are on our feet! Children who stand at the blackboard at school concentrate better.
Raising your heart rate is especially beneficial for the brain. Try to keep your heart rate up to 150 beats per minute. For best results, children should stay active for at least 30 minutes. Short periods of activity count as well. If children and adolescents move for 12 minutes, their reading comprehension and concentration will improve. Just 4 minutes of jogging physical activity helps your child concentrate more easily. Recess games are very important, even if the break is only a few minutes long.
The aging process of the brain can be stopped
In people who spend a lot of energy and are constantly moving, the frontal lobe decreases much more slowly over time. The "thinking" part of their brain (the frontal lobe is home to our most complex cognitive functions) is protected from aging! In people who do not burn many calories, that is, those who lead a sedentary lifestyle, the frontal lobe decreases much faster. A few quick runs will not drastically change the situation: we are talking about high calorie consumption over several years.
Scientists followed 20,000 women aged 70-80 for two decades and concluded that those who led an active lifestyle retained their memory for much longer than those who did not exercise much. In addition, active women were more focused and attentive. Surprisingly, the brains of those subjects who led an active lifestyle were three years younger than their years.
As always, you don't need to put in a lot of effort to feel the effect of exercise on your brain: a 20-minute daily walk is sufficient
When we study the effects of physical activity on memory, it’s hard not to think that we too are at risk of developing dementia one day. There is currently no effective cure for dementia. It is especially important for such people to start moving.
Walking is the best cure for dementia. In most studies, scientists have looked at the effects of 150 minutes of walking or jogging per week, or 30 minutes, five times a week. Running for 20 minutes three times a week gives similar results. It is advisable to walk or run rather than train in the gym.
Physical activity protects memory not only in cases of dementia. In old age, memory deteriorates in most of us. The hippocampus is reduced, blood flow to the brain is reduced, and communication between different regions of the brain is weakened. However, we can significantly slow down these processes if we remain active. Exercise inhibits brain aging and improves memory, whether we suffer from dementia or not. Any activity matters! Your body takes every step of the way, especially when it comes to brain aging.
Walk 20-30 minutes a day at least five times a week, or run 20 minutes three times a week. Swimming and cycling are also good if they are intense enough
How should you practice in order to achieve maximum results?
I repeat that there is no exact answer to this question yet, but we can still draw several conclusions. The most important one is that your brain counts every step! Of course, it is better to stay active for half an hour, not five minutes, but five minutes are considered. Engage in whatever type of physical activity you like. You should walk for at least 30 minutes a day if you want to achieve good results.
The best thing you can do for your brain is to run for 45 minutes at least three times a week. It is very important that your heart rate increases during physical activity. Give preference to aerobic activity.
Structural changes in brain architecture occur gradually. A casual walk or run will immediately improve blood flow to the brain, but it takes time for new cells to form, new blood vessels to form, and connections between different regions of the brain to be strengthened. It will take months.
The biggest change is seen by those who exercise regularly several times a week for six months
More on this: Anders Hansen. Run, brain, run! Moscow: Bombora, 2019.