Boost your Brainpower with Exercise

exercise-smallAsk yourself this question “What are the times when you have your best ideas and work most effectively?”

For me the answer is when I exercise. Whether it be one hour of lifting weights at the gym or a couple of hours on the dance floor, I’m surprised how many great ideas come to me during and after a good workout.

There is something quite amazing about moving your body that allows you to think more clearly and work more effectively.

Scientific studies have recently found that a number of benefits are associated with engaging in strenuous exercise. According to Dr John Ratey (Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain) exercise helps to activate areas of the brain such that people are sharper, more attentive and less impulsive. In addition, exercise can lead to increased intelligence and lower stress levels.

Dr Ratey also stresses that by engaging in exercise you are helping to grow new brains cells, specifically in the areas of the brain associated with learning and memory (the hippocampus).

So what sort of exercise is best for your brain and will help you to learn more effectively?

Students frequently ask me “Is a 30 minute walk OK? Is that all I need to do?” A 30 minute walk will certainly help you to relax and unwind after a long day but there are much better forms of exercise that you can engage in to benefit your brain.

Dr Ratey suggests that aerobic exercise such as running, cycling and circuit training are all great ways to benefit your brain. He also suggest that by doing interval training (i.e. alternating six 30 second sprints with 60 seconds of jogging in between) two times a week can help to increase your learning ability by up to 20%!

“The more we challenge our bodies and brains, the stronger both become” he states.