By Tamara Akcay
We hear a lot about how can CrossFit improve our fitness, help us lose weight, increase our metabolism, and maintain a healthy lifestyle over time. All these consequences are targeted towards our bodies. Are there any positive repercussions of exercise on our brains? Working out can protect our memory and thinking skills. So whether we are looking to increase our productivity, work longer hours, be more efficient, sharpen ideas or boost numbers this year, we should look into what training could trigger in our daily routine at the office.
How does exercise influence our brain?
It works on the brain in two ways, directly and indirectly.
Indirectly the body produces endorphins which create a positive feeling, reduce stress, and leave us in a state of well-being after a workout. Long-term, it also helps sleeping better, controls food cravings and balances our mood daily.
Directly, ‘the benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells’.
Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t.
Benefits of exercise on the brain
The benefits of exercising are manifolds but generally speaking, memory, the ability to learn faster and solve problems increase when the body is put to work actively. Something as simple as getting 30 to 45 minutes of high-intensity interval training daily contributes to improving cognition for two reasons:
1. Exercise increases oxygen flow into the brain, which reduces brain-bound free radicals. One of the most interesting findings of the past few decades is that an increase in oxygen is always accompanied by an uptick in mental sharpness.
2. Exercise acts directly on the molecular machinery of the brain itself. It increases neurones creation, survival, and resistance to damage and stress.
Can exercise prevent Alzheimer disease?
‘With no direct cure available at this time, emphasising prevention may be the best route.
Researchers have found a link between exercise and brain health that may keep the brain young and able to resist degenerative changes. Research published in May 2¬016 by Nathan Johnson, Ph.D. of the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences concluded that “being physically active improves blood flow to the brain and confers some protection from dementia, and conversely that people who live sedentary lifestyles, especially those who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, might be more susceptible.”’
What kind of exercise and how much of it?
Lifting weights alone isn’t going to increase our brain performances. Any activity which is good for the heart will benefit our brain. Mixing aerobic (cardio) workouts with movements which works our coordination skills is the best combination. If we enjoy lifting weights, it’s best to include it in circuit training during which cardio is added to the session. We have just listed everything that can be found in CrossFit. It is a program based on constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity which not only challenges the body but also the brain. A class lasts for an hour and is done within a friendly group environment. A rest day every two days is recommended in order to give the body a break and give it a chance to recover efficiently.