Healthy Living: Exercise bolsters the brain


This content is from our sponsor.

We have known for a long time that exercise has a positive impact on our bodies. From our waistline to our heart, getting in regular physical activity is critical for our health.

Right now, there is increased focus and awareness on the relationship between our physical health and our brain health.

“You know the old adage of sound body sound mind, I mean that really is true," Justin Jones, Wellness Expert with Regence BlueShield, says. 

We know when we workout, it increases our heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to our brain.

“It also releases hormones, which provide just a really great environment for the growth of brain cells, which is just really important.”

Jones says exercising also promotes brain plasticity, assisting with our brain's ability to change or adapt in an environment, increasing the health of our brain. 

“It stimulates growth of new connections between these brain cells and especially in important areas of our brain.”

Jones says breaking a sweat also increases the brain volume, which recent studies show can work to buffer the effects of dementia. Research shows that each hour of light-intensity physical activity along with 7,500 daily steps were associated with a higher total brain volume.

“This is equivalent to approximately 1.4 to 2.2 years of less brain aging. So I think the research backs it up, the more that we exercise the healthier our brains are.”

Exercise also has an indirect impact on brain health. We know exercise releases endorphins, which improves our mood. Exercise can also improve sleep, help with anxiety, and can even decrease depression.

“We know the effects of these problems can impair cognitive health, so not only does it have a direct effect, exercise on brain health, but it also has this indirect effect that is just as important.”

So what is the recommendation for physical activity when it comes to bolstering our brain health? Jones says get in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, or 150 minutes per week.

 “If 20-30 minutes a day feels a little overwhelming, then start a little bit lower, start at maybe 5 minutes, 10 minutes a day, and just add some minutes each week until you reach your goal.”

Jones says the best thing we can do is find an activity we enjoy doing. If you’re not comfortable with biking, hiking or running, consider some other options for moderate exercise like swimming, stair climbing, tennis or dancing.  

Some household activities count as exercise, too! Try gardening or raking leaves—especially during this time of year. Jones says breaking a sweat doing any of these activities will get you into that moderate activity.

Whatever exercise you choose, you should commit to establishing exercise as a habit.


This content is from our sponsor.