As a fitness education company we were so excited to come across this video by neuroscientist; Wendy Suzuki. Dr Suzuki takes an academic look into the benefits of fitness in brain function and most astounding the protection it lends to degenerating diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Below is a short excerpt from the lecture and you can click on the link for the whole video, your brain will be happy you did!
As a curious neuroscientists, I went to the literature to see what I could find about what we knew about the effects of exercise on the brain. And what I found was an exciting and growing literature that was essentially showing everything that I noticed in myself, better mood, better energy, better memory, better attention. And the more I learned, the more I realised how powerful exercise was, which eventually led me to the big decision to completely shift my research focus. And so now after several years of really focusing on this question, I've come to the following conclusion. That exercise is the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today for the following three reasons. Number one, it 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 what I was feeling 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. And finally, 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. But these immediate effects are transient.
They help you right after. What you have to do is do what I did that is change your exercise regime, increase your cardio respiratory function to get the long lasting effects and these effects are long lasting, because exercise actually changes the brain's anatomy, physiology and function. Let's start with my brain favourite brain area that hippocampus. The hippocampus, or exercise actually produces brand new brain cells, new brain cells in the hippocampus that actually increase its volume as well as improve your long term memory. Okay, and that that including in you and me, number two, the most common finding in neuroscience studies looking at the effects of exercise long term exercise is improved attention function dependent on your prefrontal cortex, you not only get better focus and attention, but the volume of the hippocampus increases as well. And finally, you not only get immediate effects of mood with exercise, but those lasts 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 EEG. 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 401 K for your brain, okay? And it's even better because it's free.
So, this is a point in the talk where everybody says, That sounds so interesting, Wendy, but I really only want to know one thing, and that is just tell me the minimum amount of exercise. I need to get all these changes. And so I'm so I'm going to tell you the answer to that question. First. Good news. You don't have to become a triathlete to get these effects. The rule of thumb is you want to get three to four times a week exercise minimum 30 minutes an exercise session, and you want to get a robic exercise in that is get your heart rate up. And the good news is you don't have to go to the gym to get a very expensive gym membership. Add an extra walk around the block in your power walk up the stairs, take stairs, and power vacuuming can be as good as the aerobics class that you are going to take at the gym. So I have gone from memory pioneer to exercise Explorer from going into the innermost workings of the brain to try and understand how exercise can improve our brain function. And my goal in my lab right now is to go beyond that rule of thumb that I just gave you three to four times a week. 30 minutes. I want to understand the optimum exercise, prescription for you, at your age at your fitness level for your genetic background, to maximise the effects of exercise today and also to improve your brain and protect your brain the best for the rest of your life.