Brain Benefits of Exercise

I love working out.  The sweat, the endorphin rush, the fatigued muscles.  It’s like a drug to me.  However, I know a lot of people do not like exercising.  So let me present you with one of the many reasons that exercise is good for you.

IMG_0634Our brain benefits from exercise just like the rest of our body does.  And it doesn’t seem to matter our age or mental condition.

Take the average child, for instance.   The Institute of Medicine says exercise can significantly improve a child’s cognitive abilities, academic performance and overall health.  Researchers say active children have better memories, focus and attention than less active children.  They recommend at least 60 minutes a day of rigorous or moderate physical activity.

But can exercise help alleviate cognitive problems, even one as severe as autism?  Several recent studies say yes.  They say exercise, in fact, is one of the most effective treatments for autism.  The research says vigorous exercise decreases hyperactivity, aggression, self-injury and destruction.  One expert, Dr. Stephen Edelson, also points out that autistic children gain weight through inactivity and that creates more problems.

And what about the elderly and the threat of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?  Again, studies say these diseases are lower in older folks (as much as 62% in some cases) who exercise three or more times a week than those who exercise less often.  The Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity recommends that all adults exercise at a moderate intensity each day.  That means, says the report, feeling “warm and slightly out of breath.”

Just as the old axiom states, a strong body and strong mind do go hand in hand.

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