A new study shows that muscular strength (tested with a hand grip) does indeed indicate how healthy a person’s brain is. Nearly half a million U.K. citizens participated in a study that showed the stronger a person was, the better they did in all areas of brain function testing which included multiple memory tests, reaction speed, and logical problem solving. Multiple factors such as education, gender, bodyweight and age clearly showed a connection between body strength and brain health.
Exercise and Your Brain’s Biology
Memory and thought both improve when exercise reduces insulin resistance, inflammation, and aids in the stimulation and release of growth chemicals in the brain. This positively impacts the health of established brain cells and growth of new cerebral blood vessels as well as promoting the generation and survival of new brain cells. Following are even more ways staying physically fit benefits your brain as much as it does the rest of you.
- Exercise benefits the brain is by improved circulation. This raises the brains memory function, balance, coordination and reflexes the same as it does for your body.
- When blood flow increases more oxygen and glucose are delivered to the brain and waste products are carried away that much faster.
- By stimulating the brain’s synapses, the number of receptors at muscle and nerve junctions are preserved. Now, science and dedicated research have proven that active people have a greater number of these receptors than inactive people.
- Exercise is known to lower the stress and anxiety levels that can affect your cognitive abilities.
- Dedicated, moderate exercise over a six-month period has been linked to an actual increase in size of certain sections in the brain.
Physical Strength Training and Mental Health
Long before the data of those half million program participants had been analyzed it was already an established fact aerobic exercise improves brain health. However, when it comes to weight training more research is needed to firmly establish the full extent of it benefits. One firmly established fact is how beneficial strength training is starting to look for certain mental health conditions.
More than 1000 of the half million tested were diagnosed schizophrenics. As research shows a connection between muscle strength and improved brain functionality, it’s also beginning to show that people who suffer from major depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia benefit from a regular exercise schedule. Stronger body’s and healthier minds are the goal, staying active is the key to reaching it.
Which Type of Exercise Best Promotes Brain Health – Hard and Fast, Or Slow and Steady?
According to a new study done with rats, it’s starting to look like some forms of exercise do more to add “brain bulk” than others. Of course, you’re not a rat but strong evidence is coming to light that high intensity activities may not be as beneficial in the long term to brain health and growth as slow, steady, and regular. In some studies, research done on both animals and humans results mirrored each other.
Both species showed clear evidence that the same activity that increased their brain volume also reduced the size and number of age related holes typically found in white and gray matter. There’s still a lot of ground to cover in this field of study before science is through with it. No one has all the answers (yet) on body strength and brain health, but don’t let that stop you. While science figures out the last detail you can still get out there and work on building a really buffed brain to match those perfect abs.
Old Assumptions Proven Wrong
It used to be an accepted fact that the human brain was complete at birth with no way to grow new cells. That was proven wrong in 1999 by a study at the Salk Institute. It showed that through a process called Neurogenesis, your brain is not only capable of growing new cells, with the proper encouragement (regular exercise) there is no known limit to that growth. There is still much research to be done, and who knows where it will lead but one thing is certain. Running puts your brain in “grow” mode, the more distance you cover, the more new cells you gain.