In case you need any other reasons to exercise on a regular basis, I heard about more research just today, from neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki (wendysuzuki.com), who has been particularly focused on studying the benefits of exercise on 2 parts of the brain:
The pre-frontal cortex (key for decision-making, focus, attention, personality)
The temporal lobe/hippocampus (key for forming and retaining long term memory)
As Wendy points out, it turns out that these are 2 of the areas that are most affected by degenerative brain diseases, as well as depression.
Her research identified both immediate and longer term benefits from exercising 3-4 times per week. After a single episode of exercise, her research showed improved mood for up to 2 hours after as an immediate benefit, as well as better focus and faster reaction times. What I found even more compelling was how repeated, regular exercise can have a long-term protective effect on these areas. How? Her research showed that over time there were measurable increases in the number of brain cells, and therefore the overall size of these 2 areas. This in turn means that even if a degenerative disease begins, it can take much longer for losses in ability to occur, because there are reserves of brain cells that have been built up.
We are learning so much about how important proper helmets are for protecting the brain from outside forces–don’t forget to do all you can to protect this precious treasure from the inside out as well!