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Transform Your Brain!

Happy Sunday, SoulShiners!

What's the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today? Exercise! I just spent about 15 minutes watching a TED talk by Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist. Below you’ll find a modified transcript of her take on exercise and it’s benefits. If you get some time this week, I highly recommend watching the full talk. What she says makes lots of sense to me. Exercise boosts my mood, inspires my creativity, and helps me to focus. It also helps me to put things into perspective. Things feel less heavy in my brain after I get my sweat on. But if what Wendy is saying in her talk is true—that exercise will protect your brain against neurodegenerative diseases—then I now have a new WHY. :) Read on.....

“What if I told you there was something that you can do right now that would have an immediate, positive benefit for your brain including your mood and your focus? And what if I told you that same thing could actually last a long time and protect your brain from different conditions like depression, Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Would you do it? Yes!

I am talking about the powerful effects of physical activity. Simply moving your body, has immediate, long-lasting and protective benefits for your brain. And that can last for the rest of your life.

Exercise has immediate effects on your brain. A single workout that you do will immediately increase levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. That is going to increase your mood right after that workout. exactly. My lab showed, that a single workout can improve your ability to shift and focus attention, and that focus improvement will last for at least two hours. Studies have shown that a single workout will improve your reaction times which basically means that you are going to be faster at catching that cup of Starbucks that falls off the counter, which is very, very important.

The most common finding in neuroscience studies, looking at effects of long-term exercise, is improved attention function dependent or your prefrontal cortex. You not only get better focus and attention, but the volume of the hippocampus increases as well. You not only get immediate effects of mood with exercise but those last for a long time. So you get long-lasting increases in those good mood neurotransmitters.

But really, the most transformative thing that exercise will do is its protective effects on your brain. Here you can think about the brain like a muscle. The more you're working out, the bigger and stronger your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex gets. Why is that important? Because the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus are the two areas that are most susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases and normal cognitive decline in aging. So with increased exercise over your lifetime, you're not going to cure dementia or Alzheimer's disease, but what you're going to do is you're going to create the strongest, biggest hippocampus and prefrontal cortex so it takes longer for these diseases to actually have an effect. You can think of exercise, therefore, as a supercharged 401K for your brain, OK? And it's even better, because it's free.

Good news: you don't have to become a triathlete to get these effects. The rule of thumb is you want to exercise three to four times a week for a minimum 30 minutes an exercise session, and you want to get aerobic exercise in. That is, get your heart rate up.

Bringing exercise into your life will not only give you a happier, more protective life today, but it will protect your brain from incurable diseases. And in this way it will change the trajectory of your life for the better.”

This week’s SoulShine Schedule:

Monday - HIIT at Woodstock Rec - 8:15-9:15 am

Tuesday - PiYo at Woodstock Rec - 8:15-9:15 am - please let me know if you plan on attending

Thursday - PiYo at The Athletic Club - 12-1 pm

Friday - HIIT at Woodstock Rec - 8:15-9:15 am

Session time is available on Wednesday at 8:15 and noon.

Here’s to you, to getting your exercise on, to drinking an extra few glasses of water, to standing tall and not letting what other people think of you affect your feelings about yourself, to striving for progress and not perfection, to becoming the person that you knew you could be, and for always standing up for what you believe in.



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