Exercise and Brain Function
Over the past few years we have seen the increased attention to the benefits of exercise on our brain function. This does not apply only on the ageing population but it applies to all of us. In the book “Spark” by John Ratey discusses how children who exercises often showed improved performance on academic tests. With this emerging science we have another compelling reason to promote physical activity.
Some basic fun facts about our brain:
- it represents 2% of our body weight
- and it consumes 20% of our resting metabolism (250-300kcal/day)
- it composes of approximately 78% water, 10% fat, 8% protein, 4% assorted compounds. Ever wonder why your head pounded during a hangover? Think dehydration.
- after age of 35, the human brain starts to lose mass and thus loses function. It is estimated that by the age of 65, about 10% of adults will have brain some form of cognitive impairment. Loss of IQ and memory are some of the visible changes.
- our brain needs constant movement, like the body, to keep its optimum function and performance.
Exercise and activity increases brain function by increasing levels of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) that helps stimulate and controls creation of new neurons in the brain and nervous system, supporting the survival of existing neurons and improve strength, connectivity and efficiency. Exercise and activity also helps improve learning and retention, and improves communication between left and right hemisphere of the brain.
So lets get moving!
Credits: Special thanks to Fabio Comana, Continuing Education Director of NASM for the research updates!