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Let’s Get Physical-ly Active!!

Physical - Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John and the World Health Organization (WHO) unequivocally concur that regular physical activity is essential for an individual's health and well-being.  

The WHO recommends that adults aged 18–64 should engage in at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week. 

Data from the CDC in the past few years indicated that only about 23% of adults in the United States met the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

Neuroscientist Explains the Best Exercise To Improve Brain Function (1 min 39 sec)

Physical Activity’s Effect on the Bain

Physical activity is a powerful stimulant for neuroplasticity, which is the brain's remarkable ability to reorganize and form new neural connections throughout life. This ability is fundamental to the brain's adaptability, allowing us to learn new skills, recover from injury, and adapt to new experiences. The relationship between physical activity and enhanced neuroplasticity is complex and involves several mechanisms:

1. Increased Blood Flow: Engaging in physical activity enhances blood flow to the brain. This increased circulation delivers more oxygen, nutrients, and growth factors like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to the brain, which are crucial for the health and growth of neurons.

2. Growth Factor Release: Exercise stimulates the production of various neurotrophins, which are proteins that aid in neuron survival and function. BDNF, in particular, plays a pivotal role in neuroplasticity by promoting the growth and differentiation of new neurons (neurogenesis) and strengthening the synapses, the connection points between neurons. This results in improved cognitive functions such as memory and learning.

3. Stress Reduction: Physical activity is known to reduce levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can be harmful to the brain when present in high levels over long periods. Lower stress levels promote a healthier brain environment, conducive to neuroplasticity.

4. Enhanced Neurogenesis: Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has been found to increase neurogenesis, which is the formation of new neurons, particularly in the hippocampus, a brain region vital for memory and learning. This contributes directly to improved cognitive functions and has been linked to better performance in memory tasks.

5. Improved Sleep and Mood: Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality and mood, both of which are important for optimal brain function and neuroplasticity. Good sleep promotes the consolidation of new memories, an essential process for learning, while a positive mood can enhance motivation and the ability to engage with challenging tasks.

6. Increased Synaptic Plasticity: Physical activity not only aids in the creation of new neurons but also in the enhancement of synaptic plasticity, which is the strength of connections between neurons. Stronger, more efficient synaptic connections improve the brain's ability to process, store, and recall information.

Physical activity fosters an environment within the brain that supports growth, learning, and adaptation by boosting blood flow, increasing the release of growth factors, reducing stress, enhancing neurogenesis, improving sleep and mood, and increasing synaptic plasticity. These changes contribute to the brain's ability to rewire and form new connections, leading to improvements in cognitive functions, memory, and learning capabilities. Engaging in regular physical activity is a practical and accessible way to support your brain health and cognitive function throughout your life.

Get After It!!



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