Exercise is an important activity to perform so as to maintain good health. It helps us to build strength, endurance and promotes efficient blood flow in our bodies. There are various types of this activity. One of these is aerobic exercise. This is a type which causes you to sweat, breathe more acutely and raises the heart rate. Aerobic exercise makes your heart and lungs stronger and teaches your cardiovascular system to be more efficient in the delivery of oxygen throughout the body. Aerobic exercise is designed such that it exercises all the large muscle groups in your body at the same time. It is also rhythmic and is normally performed without stopping for a minimum of 10 minutes. In addition to making your heart and circulatory system better, regular aerobics have a number of benefits. Here is how aerobic exercises enhance cognitive performance and help with the brain's neurogenesis.
Aerobics have a positive effect on cognitive performance
For a long time, we have known that exercise has a positive effect on physical performance. However, the concept that aerobic exercise may have a positive effect on cognitive ability is only being recently explored. The results of this exploration are proving to be astonishing. In one of the tests performed to assess this concept, a group of young men were subjected to a single session of aerobics to observe the effect of this form of exercise on their ability to learn.
There were two tests administered in this analysis. The first of these assessed their grasp of body orientation while doing the aerobics. To take it, they relied on their primary visual cortex or simply the part of their brains that processes vision. The other test assessed their motor skills through aerobic motions that involved thumb abduction. This test relied on their primary motor cortex or simply the part of their brain that processes motion.
44 volunteers participated in the first test while 40 participated in the second one. When the results were analyzed, it was found that a single session of aerobics can improve learning ability in the visual and motor cortexes of the brain. The improvement is significant in all test subjects. Moreover, it is persistent for at least half an hour after the aerobic exercise has been concluded. As such, the tests revealed that aerobic movement of moderate to high intensity can promote cognitive performance by increasing brain plasticity. This is where the strength of synapses in the brain increases substantially.
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Aerobics promote the brain's neurogenesis
Neurogenesis is a very important growth process which occurs in the brain. It is the creation of new neuron cells. They are responsible for transmitting messages across the various parts of the brain. Hence, neurons are the core of our ability to think and control our bodies. As we grow older, the process of neurogenesis slows down. Due to this, we are unable to create as much brain tissue as we normally would during our younger years. This leads to mental diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. They are often chronic and cannot be healed, only managed. Cognitive performance, social ability and motor reflexes are greatly reduced when one is suffering from these diseases. Thankfully, there is a way to ensure they do not occur. This is by engaging in regular aerobics as we approach our sunset years.
According to a medical study performed by Fernando-Gomez Pinilla and Charles Hillman, aerobic exercise has been observed to spare the loss of brain tissue due to advanced age. It has been seen to promote neurogenesis such that new neuron cells are created to replace the old ones in real time. This neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampus of the brain. This is the structure that is responsible for learning. Moreover, aerobics enhance the function of the brain sections responsible for cognition control. These are the higher order regions such as the primary motor cortex and visual cortex too.
A more pronounced effect occurs when the aerobics are performed according to the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) pattern. Medical study by researchers from the Departments of Psychology and Biology of Physical Activity at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) has shown that people who stay fit by using aerobics in their old age are able to allocate more attention to their environment in day to day life. They are also able to process information quicker hence a faster reaction time. Therefore, regular aerobics can be considered a functional way to delay or even prevent the onset of diseases related with old age.
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Other benefits of aerobics
Studies and research have shown that aerobic exercises can make your cardiovascular system and mental faculties perform better over time. This activity has many other benefits in addition to that :
- Aerobics help to improve your circulation system. As a result, your body is able to utilize oxygen more efficiently.
- Regular aerobics help to increase your levels of energy. Moreover, your endurance levels also rise. A combination of these two effects ensures that you can work out for longer periods of time without getting tired.
- Aerobics also reduce your risk of heart disease. Seeing as the heart is one of the most important muscles in the body, aerobics can help you to maintain its function and boost your overall health too.
- Performing regular aerobics also reduces your chances of suffering from diabetes in the future. It reduces your levels of body fat too. Hence, you are able to maintain a healthy body weight and fit physique.
- Due to the high pressure lives that we live today, many of us suffer from tension, anxiety, stress and depression. Aerobics can also help you to overcome all these conditions. By releasing your tension through the aerobic activities, you can effectively eliminate these problems and enjoy a happier life. As a result, even the quality of your sleep increases tremendously.
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The Important Take Away
There are some activities which you can engage in to improve the health and wellness of your body. One of these is aerobics. Characterized by vigorous, repetitive motions, this is a fitness exercise that has positive effects. It is able to improve the health of your heart and now, science has discovered that it increases your cognitive performance too. Many more benefits of this exercise activity are indicated above. Learn them and be inspired to sign up for an aerobic class or perform them at home on your own. The benefits are well worth it.