How Does Being Active Support Brain Health?

The reasons to be active and engage in regular exercise are many. Not only does exercise improve your physicality (strength, flexibility, endurance, etc.) it can also improve mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. Also, consider the benefits of decreased risk for chronic diseases like heart disease diabetes, and so many others. The list doesn't end there! Did you know that regular exercise and being active can support brain health as well?

Brain health is defined by The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "as an ability to perform all the mental processes of cognition, including the ability to learn and judge, use language, and remember". One of the best ways to protect your brain from the cognitive decline that often comes with aging is by exercising. According to Harvard Health Publishing, "exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills." Research has discovered that although all exercise is beneficial, aerobic exercise, in particular, seems to make a difference in brain health. Aerobic exercise being anything that gets your heart pumping and makes you a little sweaty- actually has the ability to increase the size of your hippocampus, which is the part of your brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. Exercise has also shown to improve the overall function of the brain due to the stimulation of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells. These growth factors also promote the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and may improve the survival rate of new brain cells.