How Exercise Can Lead to a Better Brain
Like so many others out there, I try to exercise regularly, because it is well known that exercise increases our energy, motivation, and creativity. It’s also clear that you can wait too long before setting up a good exercise routine.
I made that mistake myself in my late thirties, thinking I had lots of time to get in shape. Then I learned the essential truth: “Use it or lose it,” which applies not just to your body but your mind as well. When you get out of shape, your soul’s dream and spiritual perception can get “fuzzy”.
After an athletic strain had occurred (more than once in my life), I discovered two very important resources. One was the work of Dr. Mercola, in which he describes the importance overall of exercise, and “Integral Exercise” in particular. Another was a book from a physical therapist in which the author discusses the key “yogic type” stretches necessary to keep your body toned up for life. (As always, check with your Integral doc about slowly getting started.) The name of the book is Three Minutes to a Pain-Free Life by Joseph Weinberg and Heidi Shink.
Making exercise a habit can also serve to heighten our cerebral activity and assist in diminishing our brain’s actual age. It can also help to avoid things like depression and anxiety and much bigger problems, like Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here’s a summary of the importance of exercise from Dr. Mercola:
1.) Age is Just a Number
Studies show that even if you are older, it is never too late to begin doing small amounts of physical activity. Mercola stated that “a year-long human study found that adults who exercised regularly enlarged their brain’s memory center by 1 to 2 percent per year, where typically the hippocampus tends to shrink with age.” Simple, continuous activity such as gardening, walking or light yoga can be very helpful by elevating the amount of oxygen that travels to the brain, enabling you to function at your highest potential.
The article also states that “It quite literally helps prevent, and even reverse, brain decay as much as it prevents and reverses age-related muscle decay.” As we have said before in our article There Is a Better Way to Manage Your Stress, intermittent movement may be more important than regular exercise. Find a friend to walk or do yoga with, and keep each other accountable! These moments can also become excellent times to connect and recognize synchronicities with one another.
2.) Reduce Depression
Regular physical activity not only helps to increase cognition in the young and elderly, but it also contributes to lift our mood and prevent depression. Mercola states, “One of the ways exercise promotes mental health is by normalizing insulin resistance and boosting natural ‘feel good’ hormones and neurotransmitters associated with mood control, including endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA.” These hormones, by helping to sweep away some of the toxic chemicals created by stress, generate a boost within the brain that is conducive to fighting depression and anxiety.
Another study noted that “women who sat for more than 7 hours a day were found to have a 47 percent higher risk of depression than women who sat for four hours or less per day. Those who didn’t participate in any physical activity at all had a 99 percent higher risk of developing depression than women who exercised.”
We also must remember to approach depression from a spiritual and interpersonal standpoint. There’s no faster way to raise one’s energy than by uplifting another person and encouraging them to move forward in their lives. Remember, when you give energy, you get energy!
So don’t wait too long to keep your physical body in shape. Remember: a little knowledge goes a long way when you are seeking ways to be more healthful and creative. Although society today tries to convince us that all we need is “this product” or “that merchandise” to be healthy, sometimes minimal effort can produce maximum benefit. Keep it simple! The same goes for our spiritual health; sometimes a small, quiet prayer can bring about a remarkable, inspired moment.
For an inspired life,
Reference: Exercise Can Make Your Brain a Decade ‘Younger’ Than Your Calendar Age by Dr. Joseph Mercola
Recommended reading: https://www.amazon.com/Minutes-Pain-Free-Life-Groundbreaking-Prevention/dp/0743476476