By Catherine Nitelet-Vedder, Wellness Blogger and Educator

We often talk about the beneficial effects of physical activity on the body, healthy life expectancy and stress management. However, we talk less about the effect of sport on the brain. On the occasion of the 23rd edition of Brain Awareness Week, let’s discover another good reason to exercise!

The effect on brain chemistry…

First, by increasing the heart rate and therefore blood flow, exercise helps to oxygenate the brain better. Physical activity also encourages the brain to secrete dopamine, linked to attention, motivation and pleasure. Serotonin, linked to mood, self-esteem and learning and norepinephrine, linked to wakefulness, attention and mood. These molecules play a role in the development of brain cells and support their daily functioning.

Brain health is about physical activity

Sport increases brain plasticity, strengthens synaptic connections, develops neurogenesis and improves brain metabolism as well as cerebrovascular function. Playing sports also prevents neurological degeneration. By protecting against hypertension, insulin sensitivity, etc. physical activity helps to preserve brain functions.

Improve your memorization skills

If sport has a rather positive effect on brain health, it also makes it possible to improve learning. This appears to be associated with the fact that parts of the brain develop alongside physical fitness in children and adults. This effect of physical activity on memory does not only occur in the medium and long term, but can also be occasional. Physical activity during learning helps also to memorize. For this to work, the exercise must be moderate like walking or cycling as the processing of information is generally best during moderate exercise than at rest. If the activity is too intense, there is no more mental space to concentrate on something else…

Improve executive functions, concentration, and creativity

But exercise doesn’t just affect memory! It also improves attention, reasoning and problem-solving. Doing 20 minutes of physical exercise during breaks at work improves the ability to concentrate. And no need for strenuous activity, simple coordination exercises have a positive impact on attention. Without forgetting that moderate physical activity protects against decline in a general way! You will understand that to stay alert, you have to move. And if you are not a fan of jogging or cycling, two sessions of weight training per week also has a positive effect on the brain and cognitive function. Physical activity is also an effective antidepressant. And if you are still not convinced, know that it also promotes creativity so if you want to find new artistic ideas, go for a walk!

WYAO Hawaii is here to support you and your team during these challenging times and beyond. Call or email for an education session that can support, educate, and help your team to continue to step into their best selves! Terri@wyaohawaii.com

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