Increase Brain Power through Exercise

  By Laura Cuddy  /  

Is there a hack to increase brain power to become more successful?

Well, science says yes. Regular exercise can increase brain power significantly, thus making you more successful in your personal and professional lives.

Studies show that people who exercised during their workday were 23% more productive on those days than they were when they didn’t exercise.

In this article, we will share some human brain facts, understand what happens to our brain during exercise and explore the cognitive, psychological and lifestyle benefits of exercise.

increase brain power

Human Brain Facts

Your brain is the most complex organ in the body.

Here are some fascinating facts and figures backed by science that you probably didn’t know:

  • The brain is the centre of the human nervous system, controlling our thoughts, movements, memories and decisions.
  • The human brain consumes the largest portion of the total energy that is generated in the human body. The brain consumes 20% of that energy, almost enough energy to power a light bulb.
  • Some people believe that we use less than 10% of our brain. In fact, you use your entire brain function, not just 10% as often rumoured.
  • Yawning is our bodies way of cooling down an overheated brain.  When your brain does not receive the appropriate amount of oxygen, the yawn is said to provide the remaining amount of oxygen to the brain.
  • The size of your brain does not impact your intellect. In fact, Einstein’s brain was relatively smaller compared to the average size of the brain.

What happens to your brain during exercise

It’s important to understand what actually happens to your brain when we begin to exercise.

Our body responds to exercise as if you were embracing a dangerous situation.

The brain recognizes a high intensity workout as a moment of stress and thus provokes a physiological reaction of survival.

Even though you’re not in any danger from doing a set of burpees, the brain cannot differentiate between working out and a life-or-death survival situation.

The brain protects itself by releasing a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor).

This BDNF has a protective and reparative element to your memory neurons. This BDNF acts as a reset switch in our brain. That’s why we often feel so at ease and our thoughts become much clearer after exercising.

Naturally, the brain also releases neurochemicals called endorphins.

Endorphins, are a group of hormones that provoke the body’s opiate receptors which cause a euphoric effect ( a feel good sensation). This feel good effect releases body stress and tension to make you feel calm and content.

Exercise requires motivation and discipline. However, the result is you will be a stronger person in your personal life and a more successful professional.

Apart from this feel good sensation, let’s explore the cognitive, psychological and lifestyle benefits of exercise.

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Exercise and Cognitive Function

Your cognitive abilities are brain based skills that allow us to remember, think and focus.

Multiple studies carried out show that people that do regular exercise increase brain power through enhancing these core abilities.

We can better think at speed, act quickly, remember details and concentrate for longer periods of times. To add, people of all ages can benefit from these cognitive enhancing benefits.

1. Think Fast

Everyone wants to be the first person to be able to solve issues in work meetings and think at speed.

White matter (Brain tissue) transmits data around the brain. Having high levels of white matter means that your connections are more efficient at transmitting information within the brain.

In a meta analysis carried out, researchers found 24 studies relating to exercise and brain power speed. Across these studies, it was found that people (of all ages) that did regular exercise had a modest improvement in their cognitive speed.

2. Improve Concentration

Office noise, many job responsibilities, kids after work schedules…there are so many distractions throughout the course of a day’s work.

A study from the University of Bristol showed that physically fit people have increased control over their ability to focus attention and be more productive.

Do you have an important presentation that you want to kill? Doing a quick high intensity workout beforehand will ensure you are at your best when all eyes are on you.  

3. Improve Memory

Scientists believe we increase brain power through triggering new cell growth (Cathepsin B) when we exercise. 

As we exercise, blood flow and our oxygen supply is released to the brain.

Many experiments carried out shows that in fact people who regularly work out have a stronger ability to retain information.

In a recent study (Current Biology Journal), researchers found that exercising four hours after a memory task helped people better retain the information.

The experiment involved a picture location memory task (40min) with 72 people. Then the participants were randomly instructed to either exercise right away, exercise 4 hours later, or not exercise at all.

The result of the study showed that the people who exercised hours after studying remembered more information.

4. Emotional Control

If you have a tendency to say things without a filter at work or perhaps you struggle with maintaining patience with certain colleagues, regular exercise helps control these emotions.

Studies show that exercise can help you keep calm, stay on track and to manage all of these emotions through your body.

Exercise helps you keep centered and maintain a calm mind to manage life’s turbulent waters.

A study by the Journal of Sports Medicine looked at several groups of people including children, adolescents, and adults up to the age of 35.

It was found that short intense exercise had a significant effect across all age groups on inhibition and interference control (self control).

Psychological Benefits of Exercise

Psychologists don’t often prescribe exercise as a form of treatment. However, exercise can actually be the perfect solution to anybody suffering stress, anxiety or depression.

1. Stress Management

When we exercise, we activate the release of endorphins. As we mentioned earlier, endorphins are chemicals that are released in our bodies after exercise that make us happy and feel good.

Exercise also acts as a source of meditation. During a high intensity workout, your mind automatically forgets stressful thoughts as you only focus on your body movements.

When the mind has nothing concrete to focus on, our minds can drift and think about situations that are complicated or stressful. Exercise simply pushes your mind to focus your energy on your body.

2. Prevents and Fights Depression

Depression is a major mental illness globally. Researchers say that it is set to be the second biggest medical condition by 2020.

A research analysis carried out reported the effect of exercise on depression. It was found that exercise had a significant relief from depression.

A second finding was that exercise was found to be equally effective as a form of depression treatment compared to psychological therapy and drugs.

3. Improved Self Esteem

Low self esteem can drag you down. It creates a lack of focus, stress and anxiety. It can also negatively impact the performance in our jobs.

A large quantitative review was carried out which reported a change in self esteem with exercise. It was actually found that the fitter the person, the higher was one’s self esteem.

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Lifestyle Benefits of Exercise

Apart from all of the benefits already named of how you can increase brain power through exercise, there are yet more benefits that don’t necessarily fit into cognitive or physcological buckets.

Exercise positively impacts our day to day lifestyle.

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1. Increased Productivity

Exercise during the work day improves job performance.

Research shows that people that exercised during their workday were 23% more productive on those days than they were when they didn’t exercise.  (International Journal of Workplace Health Management.)

When we’re productive it pushes us to succeed more.

On returning to the office after your mid-day break, people that workout during this time return to finish the rest of the work day with increased brain power.

Increase brain power through higher work performance and improved mental sharpness.

2. Improved Sleep Quality

The quality of your sleep can increase brain power function. 

Research carried out found that increased sleep time and fewer disturbances during the night were positive side effects to regular exercise.

Both resistance training and cardio training have shown to improve sleep.

3. Eat Better

If you have started exercising regularly,  you may have noticed that you automatically have adjusted your diet to a healthier one.

Evidence shows there is a direct correlation between exercise and what you eat.

Researchers have noticed that people (of all ages) tend to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables when you do regular exercise.

4. Learn Fast

Exercise helps to learn new information and also increase the rate at which you learn new things. This is a major plus if you are career driven and want to consistently develop your skillset.

One study carried out took three groups and subjected them to different levels of exercise. One high intensity, one low intensity and one group with no exercise.

The results of the study showed the group that did high intensity exercise indeed learned 20% faster than the other groups.

What’s the best time to exercise for the brain

This depends on your schedule and where you can fit in the time for a workout.

You can increase brain power and trigger different functions depending on the times of the day you choose to work out. 

A workout in the morning increases brain activation and energy supply. People that exercise in the morning begin the work day fresh and with high energy levels.

For those people that find it difficult to focus at mid day, afternoon workouts are the perfect solution to increase work productivity for the remaining day.

Evening workouts are great for people that want to get energised and disconnect from a long day’s work.

With the Mammoth Hunter’s app, you can choose to workout from the office, in the work patio or simply at home in your living room.

We have made it easy, you can work out from anywhere. When to work out, depends on your schedule.

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Increase brain power through Exercise

Exercise acts like a fertilizer for the brain.

We know that it is widely known that regular exercise is good for you. But, the extent at which actually how good exercise is for your mental health is underestimated.  

You are not going to become Einstein overnight by doing a few sets of pushups, but regular exercise will increase brain power.

Along with a strengthened body, over time you will notice many positive changes to your mental and cognitive health. Aside from this, you will naturally adapt a better and more productive lifestyle.

 

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2 thoughts on “Increase Brain Power through Exercise”

  1. To Whom it may concern,
    Excellent article, I’ve always believed exercise was a very important part of everyone persons regime to daily living. I use to be a very active person and still try to do as much as posible. I have SPMS and find fatigue my biggest hurdle as well my legs are my main priority to keep strong and stay out of a wheelchair. As well I have peripheral neuropathy in limbs, do you have any advice for me.

    Regards,
    Adriano

    1. Hi Adriano, thanks very much for your comment.

      To be honest, it’s difficult to give you solid recommendations without knowing your specific case in more details. Saying that, I know that in similiar cases like yours, the key is to stay well hydrated and ensure you consume high levels of omega 3.

      When working out, very short high intensity training sessions are demonstrated to be the most effective (3-4 min workouts). By doing this, you should not feel muscular pain during the rest of the day or the following day.

      Hope this helps and have a nice day!

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