A common piece of fitness advice is to find your reason for training. It’s a powerful suggestion because we all do things for very different reasons. Without a good answer to the question about why you exercise, even on the days when you can’t be bothered, then you’ll probably notice a steady decline in your drive to stick with regular training.
So, why do you exercise? It makes you feel emotionally balanced. It helps you look your best. It gives you confidence. It helps you become healthier so you can live longer.
The list of exercise benefits is a long one and you can quickly see that even though your brain isn’t a muscle, it laps up the improvements each time you sweat. Your gray matter is the leader of it all because without it, you’ll never make any bodily progress. So, how can you optimize your brain’s rewards from exercise? A new study in Nature Human Behavior, thinks it may have the answers that will make your body and brain equally fit.
The researchers looked at 80 papers on the subject that covered everything from endurance training to lifting weights and discovered what makes your brain more efficient. For the biggest cognitive boost, you should involve yourself in coordinated and challenging sports that use complex movement patterns and interactions with other players. Collaborating with other people towards a common goal while doing something that’s physically tiring brings out the best in your brain’s problem-solving capacity.
You’re a social creature, built to work with other people and this act helps to reward you with better outcomes which will overflow into your work and home life. The good news is that you don’t have to spend hours per week playing sport to get your brain to feel fitter. Instead, you can do just a short session each week to improve your brain’s health and overall productivity.
Not everyone is the athletic type or has a life schedule that can accommodate a season of a team sport. However, you can still enjoy all these benefits by exercising interactively with your training partner, even if it’s just doing one session together each week.
Throw a medicine ball back and forth.
Take turns sitting on a sled while the other person pushes it.
Push their legs down during leg raises.
Make a coordinated game out of your regular workout and not only will you increase the training intensity that will lead to elevated results, but you’ll also improve your brain health, so you become smarter. Work together and you’ll both rewarded with a more powerful mind and body connection that will help you crush your goals this week.
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SPORTS AND BRAIN HEALTH
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