It’s unfair to stigmatize muscle heads as meatheads. New research suggests that working out doesn’t just flex biceps, but the brain as well.
A recent review shows that exercise is associated with a greater ability to boost concentration, learning ability, and memory for up to two hours following moderate to vigorous activity.
Those reps make your brain stronger too.
Except your mind is not a muscle. It’s mostly comprised of fat.
What the heck is going on?
The review found that when young adults performed between 2 and 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise, their brains were more effective at learning, storing, and accessing memories between 30-minutes and two hours.
Before you ask yourself how benefits seen in young adults are transferable to you, consider this: similar studies have produced similar results in older adults. The lead author of the review, Dr. Peter Blomstrand, said that the same results would likely apply to all age cohorts.
This particular review, published in Translational Sports Medicine, focused on aerobic exercise (specifically walking, running, and bicycling). That said, Blomstrand suggested that the benefits would likely carry over to other forms of aerobic exercise, like swimming and anaerobic exercise like weight lifting/resistance training.
Does muscle strength contribute to a better memory or greater cognitive capabilities? Not necessarily. However, the process of building strong muscles may.
When you work out, whether with weights or by going for a walk at a moderate/brisk pace, your blood starts pumping. Blood moves through arteries to supply oxygen and nutrients through the body, including the brain.
Exercise, of course, is essential to circulation, blood pressure, and other aspects of heart health.
Increased blood flow might be just one reason exercise and cognitive function are so closely related. Aerobic activity may also trigger neurochemical changes, encouraging faster connections and communication central to mental sharpness.
Build muscle and memory by including a workout into your weekly routine. Spend at least 30-minutes per day exercising, then look to benefit your brain by doing your learning and thinking in the period following.
It could help your brain and body get stronger!