exercise and the brain

6 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power

The knowledge that exercising improves the mind and body is well known, however, it has also been found to have a profound effect on cognitive function. Working out is one of the most powerful things you can do to stimulate your brain. Even just one workout can force physiological changes that improve mental function.

Exercise not only physically grows your muscles, it also grows your brain. As you sweat, fatty acids break down into ketone bodies. These molecules will activate the gene responsible for producing brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Exercise also increases volume in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that regulates memory.

Focus on growing your brain and muscles with 6 exercise-based tips to boost your brain power.


Mix up your routine

yoga for health

Mix up your workout routine for the largest brain boost. Cardio produces feel-good neurotransmitters, BDNF, and gray matter. While strength training protects white matter, or specialized brain cells that pass messages from one part of your brain to another.

Activities that require you to think as you go, like a dance class, will make your white matter even healthier.

Yoga, when combined with meditation, an hour a week has been found to improve memory, multitasking, and mood.



Sweat it out early

early workouts

Working out is a natural energy booster and will increase your concentration. To get the most out of the benefits, exercise in the morning when you need the brain boost the most. It will help you focus, learn, and retain new information. You will also feel more alert and positive for the rest of the day. The perks of a moderate to intense workout will last hours, ensuring that afternoon fatigue will stay far away.





Take it outside

bike outdoors

Exercising outside enhances the brain-boosting power of exercise. Sunlight increases serotonin production, making you feel happy and awake. That nature hike or bike ride through the trails also boosts critical thinking. A study published in PLOS One found that after spending three days in the wild, hikers performed 50 percent better on problem-solving tasks.

It is no secret that your brain needs rest as much as your body does and immersing yourself in nature allows your prefrontal cortex – the brain’s command center – to rest.



Refuel with brain food

brain food

It is imperative to properly refuel after a workout, for both your body and brain. After a low to moderate-intensity workout, eat a snack that has 20 grams of protein and 35 grams of carbs up to 90 minutes after the workout has ended. After an intense workout, eat 30 grams of protein and 55 grams of carbs. Protein, along with repairing your muscles, provides tyrosine, an amino acid that stimulates the production of a neuropeptide that makes you feel more alert, a study in Neuron found. The carbs act to replenish your stores of glucose for energy for your brain and body.





Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

hydrate

Water is essential for all bodily functions, but the brain seems to be the most sensitive to water loss. The most effective way to rehydrate after a workout is to weigh yourself before and after you workout, drinking a pint of water for each pound you lost. Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling low and fatigued.





Find fitness friends

exercise with friends

The research supporting working out with friends is immense. Exercising with a friend causes you to push yourself harder and results in you feeling happier after the workout ends, research shows. The social interaction also has benefits. Spending time with friends increases cognitive performance, according to research at the University of Michigan. It also warms up the mental processes needed for other problem-solving tasks. Additionally, working out with a friend will motivate you to stick to your gym routine.