Our brain is the part of the central nervous system that coordinates the body’s actions by receiving and interpreting sensory impulses and transmitting information to different parts of the body. Like every other part of the body, it needs to be cared for.
Exercising the brain stimulates chemicals that improves mood and improve part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improves mood. Regular exercise reduces stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety and helps with recovery from mental health issues. Exercise improves sleep, pumps blood to the brain which helps you think more clearly. It increases the size of the hippocampus; the part of the brain responsible for memory. Exercise also increases the connection between the nerve cells in the brain which enhances memory and protects the brain against injury and diseases.
It is recommended to do at least 3 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity on most or all days of the week. Mental exercises are beneficial in many ways and will help improve memory retention and focus.
I will like to also explain how exercising can impact on depression, anxiety and stress.
EXERCISE AND DEPRESSION
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as anti-depressant medication but without the side effects. Exercise is an effective depression fighter which promotes all kinds of activities and changes in the brain. Activities like neural growth, reduced inflammation and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. Endorphins are released which energizes and puts you in high spirits and make you feel good. It is also a distraction that allows you break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.
EXERCISE AND ANXIETY
Exercise is an anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Exercising with mindfulness is an important element to interrupt the flow of worries.
EXERCISE AND STRESS
During stress, your muscles may be tense, especially your face, neck and shoulders leaving you with back or neck pains and headaches. The physical activity of exercising helps relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Once your body feels good, so will your mind.
Even if you suffer a mental breakdown, regular exercise can offer a welcome boost to your mind, outlook and mental well-being. Exercise provides sharper memory and thinking, boosts self-esteem and enhances better sleep.
You can gain much from incorporating these exercises into their daily activities:
Meditation is the practice of thinking deeply or focusing your mind for a period of time. The ultimate goal of meditation is feeling relaxed and having inner peace which can improve mental health. Some research suggests practicing meditation can help manage negative emotions such as anger and fear. Meditation also helps with stress.
True meditation is a time for creation. It’s a time you give yourself to creating pictures. Your brain and mind works together to create mental images, and this process stretches your mental capacity and creative ability. Meditating properly will improve your memory, enhance sound judgment, and make you better organized.
READING AND STUDYING
Reading and studying helps to sharpen and broaden your mind. Reading regularly facilitates better information processing. Reading also improves comprehension and communication skills – verbal and non-verbal. Challenge yourself to read books and study new topics. This will help your brain to explore its capacity to imagine, think and create.
Dancing is an art that involves rhythmic steps or movements that usually express feelings of joy and excitement. It can also be a means of communication. Choreography can improve physical coordination and memory retention. This form of exercise is great for stimulating the brain’s cognitive acuity.
An anagram game or a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is usually a lot of fun. The plus side of puzzles is that they enhance the brain’s capacity for critical thinking and analysis. Also, skills such as connecting patterns and finding missing objects in games and puzzles can be directly transferred to real-life problem solving.
Optimum brain function is dependent on proper nutrition. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, and plant oils are very good for your brain. Also, the very act of chewing activates several brain regions that are essential for improving mental performance, including the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.
LEARNING A NEW SKILL
Learning a new skill is fun and interesting. Whether it is learning to cook or building a workshop by yourself or starting a new course. Learning challenges your brain and will also help strengthen mental connections. Learning a new skill works multiple areas of your brain; your memory improves, you learn new movements and you associate things differently. Engaging in a new skill thickens the brain’s prefrontal cortex and helps you gain courage and confidence which helps you overrides fear and anxiety.
EXERCISING YOUR BODY
Physical exercise is a great way of exercising your brain. By moving your body, you are training your brain to learn new muscle movements, estimate distance and practice balance. The regular repetitive movements from exercising build muscle memory, which develops efficiency within the motor and memory systems. You can choose a variety of exercises to challenge you mentally.
CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE
Good relationships are important for mental well-being. They can:
Help you build a sense of belonging and self- worth
Give you an opportunity to share positive experiences and energy
Provides emotional support for you and allow you support others as well.
You can plan more hang outs with family and friends, talk more and relate with real people other than watching a TV or being on the internet.
Finally, a healthy brain makes a healthy body. Exercise your brain to optimize mental health and improve proper function. It is never too late to start exercising your brain, so start now. You may struggle in finding motivation or staying motivated for exercise but think about ways you can make exercising part of your daily routine.
Have fun finding out what exercising pattern work for you.