Geeks and athletes are often depicted as polar opposites, but exercise isn’t just good for the body; it’s also good for the mind. Many studies demonstrate the positive effects of regular exercise on cognition and mental health. Here are just a few of the scientifically-proven ways exercise benefits your brain:
It was once thought the brain couldn’t create new cells once it was finished growing. However, in recent years, it’s become clear that the brain can grow new neurons in a process called neurogenesis. There is evidence that aerobic exercise can help increase new brain cells.
There’s widespread belief that exercise can help to ‘cure’ depression and other mood disorders. This isn’t true. However, working out can have a positive effect on some types of depression, and scientists consider it a promising treatment for mood disorders alongside formal treatment. Vigorous exercise also has positive short-term effects on mood, as it requires a great deal of concentration and distracts from other intrusive thoughts.
Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are significantly less likely to develop degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Even people who start exercising later in life can benefit from the effect.
There’s a growing body of evidence showing that kids who are active perform better in school. Children who exercise often are better able to focus, perform tasks, and recall information on tests. But this benefit isn’t just for kids; staying in shape can also improve cognitive performance in adults. One study by Scientific American showed that regular exercise can enhance brain function over a lifetime, especially if you stick with it as the years go by.