We know as scientists that endorphins are released during exercise. New findings from biology and education research shows that regular exercise benefits the brain in numerous ways. Regular workouts in the gym or at home improve attention span, memory and learning. They can also reduce stress and the effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and even delay cognitive decline in old age. In short staying in shape can make you smarter.
Memory retention and learning functions are all about brain cells actually changing, growing and working better get together. Exercise creates the best environment for that process to occur. Exercise also spurs the brain to produce more of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. This powerful protein encourages brain cells to grow interconnect and communicate in new ways, especially in a part of the brain which is heavily involved in learning and memory skills.
Regular exercise lowers the risk of disease, improves sleep and relieves stress. For adults, Heart Research UK recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate activities such as speed walking hiking or cycling.
Here are some tips to help you and your family to stay fit as part of their normal routine:
1. Where it is practical, jog, walk or cycle to school or work rather than driving or taking public transport.
2. Take the stairs instead of the lift start with 1 floor each week and gradually increase the number of floors until you make it to the top.
3. Play a fun game of tennis. A single game can burn 480 calories an hour equal to two chocolate bars.
4. Take a brisk walk in the middle of the working day it will be a good break and will help you feel invigorated and refreshed.
5. Check out leisure centres and park facilities on a regular basis.
6. Eat to live rather than live to eat. Eat only what you need.
“Healthy body; healthy mind” ……. it’s an oldie but it’s a goldie!
Dr Jon Cartmell
PhD MA(Cantab) MA DMS PGCE