Train Your Brain: How Exercise Increases Brain Plasticity

Our brains are marvelous, mysterious things. New discoveries related to brain function, health, and the mind-body relationship are made all the time and it’s unbelievably exciting!

The term, brain plasticity, has been around since 1948, but it wasn’t until the late 90’s that significant research was conducted. Brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize and reconnect to itself; the potential here is untold. 

Discover how neuroplasticity training might fit into your life and expand your mind, body, and brain. 

Brain Plasticity

For far too long, scientists assumed that the brain was a static organ with a fixed amount of neurons, that steadily declined with age. Fortunately, we are becoming aware of the regenerative properties of our brains which are largely associated with exercise, diet, and positive thinking. 

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt, change, and grow as a result of environmental and chemical stimuli. Imagine the impact this type of reconstruction of ourselves might have on someone who has suffered a stroke, major trauma, or brain injury.

Patients of this kind could begin to define themselves rather than be defined by their brains.

It also has yet to fully be measured benefits on memory, cognition, and enhancing a sensory input, e.g. enhance hearing for a blind person. 

Exercise and Your Brain

Exercise is not only to look good in those jeans but also crucial to a healthy brain. During exercise, our heart rate increases, which increases the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain. Exercise induces the brain to aid in the release of hormones, especially endorphins, which are powerful mood-boosters!

This study on rats showed that exercise increased a growth hormone in the brain, increased brain plasticity, and improved their cognitive functions. Though there is still much more data to collect, this study on humans shows that exercise is just as effective at treating depression as psychological or pharmacological treatments. 

Our brains respond to internal and external stimuli, and when the body is exercising, it is sending all kinds of awesome signals to your brain. 

How to Train Your Brain

These exercises should be used wisely: with lots of fun!

There are many different ways to incorporate these brain training tools into your daily routine, have fun trying new things, and finding what works best for you.

  • Use your other hand – brush your teeth, write a note, or doodle with your non-dominant hand
  • Read and learn new things
  • Learn a new body skill – dancing, yoga, Tai Chi, juggling
  • Learn to play an instrument, or study a new language
  • Go for a walk
  • Travel somewhere new and see things you’ve never seen 
  • Be mindful, be grateful, meditate
  • Crosswords and sudoku 
  • Apps like Peak or Lumosity
  • Listening to music
  • Aerobic exercises
  • Helping others

The key here is to never stop learning and growing into the person we want to be. Don’t let trauma or injury keep you down for too long without exploring the benefits of these simple and fun practices.

Healthy Brain, Healthy You

Ultimately, you are in charge of your own brain plasticity! Chances are, you have had major setbacks, suffered depression, or any number of difficult events unique to you and your life situation.

No one knows you better than you. Keep trying new things until you find what works best for you, and remember to have fun with it!

Sudoku get your blood pressure up? Don’t do it. Non-fiction books make you sad? Read a comic book.

Discover everything you have to offer yourself and this world, and don’t forget to give back. Not everyone has the ability to help themselves, some depend on aid while patiently waiting for science and medicine to make more breakthroughs. Your donation to this brain injury charity could go so far in helping.

Let’s all start getting the brain help we need to make the world a smarter, healthier place!

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