According to neurologist Etienne van der Walt, keeping active is one of the best ways to improve brain health. As he told Quartz earlier this year, “Specific forms of exercises have been shown to be very beneficial for … brain growth.”
Simply speaking, when we exercise, our heart rate increases, oxygen is pumped to the brain at a much faster rate, and new brain cells develop more quickly.
The more brain cells we create, the easier it is for cells to communicate with one another, developing new neural pathways.
Ultimately, our brains become more efficient and plastic, which means better cognitive performance.
A 2014 study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that children who regularly exercised had higher “attentional inhibition,” defined by The New York Times as “the ability to block out irrelevant information and concentrate on the task at hand.” The Times article also noted that study participants ended the with “heightened abilities to toggle between cognitive tasks.”
It doesn’t even take that much sweat to keep your brain in good shape. A study conducted by the department of exercise science at the University of Georgia in 2003 found that an exercise bout of just 20 minutes is enough to change the brain’s information processing and memory functions.
Bottom line: however you decide to keep active, just keep moving.
- Vivian Giang