You’ll get more from your exercise time when you include lifting weights. It not only helps promote bone density, builds muscle tissue, burns fat tissue and makes you less prone to injury, studies show it can improve your memory. It’s not only muscle and bone tissue that strength training boosts. It helps boost the development of new neurons in the brain, which can improve mental functioning and memory. Chances are, you’re among this majority. The good news is that your brain is a dynamic organ, constantly adapting and changing, for better or for worse.
The brain is not static, it grows and changes.
At one time it was though that people were born with all the brain cells they’d ever have, but new findings show that’s simply not true. The brain has neuroplasticity. It’s the process that causes it to grow new neurons. In fact, age doesn’t matter. The memory center of the brain, the hippocampus, grows new cells continuously, if you follow certain protocols. While the memory center of the average person may decline with age, one study found that it grew by one or two percent in people who exercised.
Studies show that exercise helps not only fight dementia, but also create large cognitive gains.
When you workout, you improve the blood flow to your brain and even increase it. It also helps increase the creation of compounds that protect the nerves. Exercise helps boost the survival of neurons in the brain, while boosting the development of new ones. Damaging plaque can form in the brain in diseases like Alzheimer’s. Exercise lowers the amount of that plague and reduces beta-amyloid peptides that form them.
Studies show that as little as 20 minutes of weight lifting could boost your long-term memory.
A study at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta chose 46 random volunteers. They were divided into two groups, active and passive exercise. Before the exercise took place they were shown 90 pictures to rate as positive, negative or neutral, then later asked to recall those images. Then the researchers used a resistance exercise machine and had the active group do 50 extensions at maximum effort, while the passive group let the machine move their legs for 50 extensions. The training took about 20 minutes. Two days later, the same procedure of showing images was used with new images in the mix. There was a significant difference between the two groups with the active group identifying 60 percent, while the passive group only identified 50 percent. That was two days later and just one training session!
One study showed that just 40 minutes of exercise daily, elementary school students boosted their IQ points by almost four points.
- HIIT—high intensity interval training—can boost your brain while it boosts your body. It should include not only strength training, but also core work.
- Sitting for prolonged periods can be your biggest hazard. Don’t sit for more than an hour without getting up and stretching, running in place or doing some other type of activity to get your body moving.
- Rather than speeding up your weight training, consider slowing it down. It not only helps prevent injury, but works much the same way as HIIT.
- Besides exercise, eating healthy, getting adequate sleep and drinking plenty of water boosts brain activity.