You know exercise is good for your physical health, but did you know it’s also good for your brain? The latest neurological research has shown that there is a so-called ‘magic protein’ called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) that has the power to supercharge your brain and improve your memory. And it is stimulated by cardiovascular exercise!
BDNF can rewire and build new neural pathways in the brain, especially in the crucial areas that control memory (the hippocampus) and analysis, thinking, and decision-making (the frontal lobes). Your frontal lobes are where most of the intellectual activity of the brain takes place, from processing the data that’s coming in all the time to problem-solving and making ethical decisions. And you can keep these critical parts of your brain bathed in BDNF by merely increasing the amount of exercise in your daily routine.
If you find it hard to commit to regular exercise, here are three ways you can make it easier and supercharge your brain at the same time.
1. Make it Fun
The key to maintaining an exercise regime is to choose an activity or activities that you enjoy. Not everyone likes going to the gym, but there are many other ways to increase your heart rate and get the BDNF pumping.
Dancing, swimming, hiking out in nature, and bike riding will all get your heart rate up, and you’ll enjoy doing it. Even brisk walking will help. As a bonus, exercise will boost your endorphins, too, making you happier and more relaxed.
2. Schedule Your Exercise
It’s easier to stick to a regular exercise plan if you schedule time in your diary. Set aside time and increase your sessions until you’re exercising for thirty minutes, four or five times a week. Like any other habit, once you make it a priority, it will become just another part of your regular routine like brushing your teeth.
3. Make it Musical
Research has shown that music can increase motivation and happiness. Exercise will be much more fun if you’re bopping away to your favorite tunes. Even housework can become a brain-boosting dance routine when you’re vacuuming along to music that makes you smile. Turn up the volume and start cleaning to the beat!
Create a playlist of your favorite songs, and you will find that exercise is pleasurable and much easier to stick to when there’s upbeat music to encourage you!