This is Your Brain on Exercise

This is Your Brain on Exercise

Getting fit is often seen as a way to get body-wide benefits inside and out — from a leaner and stronger physique to better cardiovascular health. But another organ surprisingly also sees plenty of advantages when you work up a sweat: your brain.

“Your brain is wired to respond positively to exercise,” says Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, author of “Habits of a Happy Brain.” “When you exercise consistently, your brain gets even more efficient at making and releasing the natural chemicals that keep you upbeat, like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.”

That means by working out, you’re basically creating your own anti-depressant. But that’s just the start. Here’s a look at some of the ways exercise can literally change your brain, plus the benefits you might see as a result.


Cardiovascular exercise has been associated with better cognitive function and studies note that when people do high-intensity activity, they tend to increase brain volume. With more volume comes a better ability to complete complex tasks, according to Matthew Capolongo, a NASM performance enhancement specialist and a coach at New York-based Professional Athletic Performance Center. He notes that this can include problem solving, information processing and multitasking.

Consider taking a HIIT class before your next big, multitask project at work — it could make your brain operate better as a result.


According to a recent study, it only takes about six weeks of aerobic exercise to increase the size of your hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s largely responsible for memory formation and learning activity.

In addition to increasing the size of the hippocampus, exercising can also change what’s happening in this area. The hippocampus has the unique capacity to generate new neurons every day — up to 700 of them, according to neurologist Majid Fotuhi, MD, chairman of Memosyn Neurology Institute. Unfortunately, most of these neurons don’t survive unless they have support from the body to grow.

Exercising not only increases the production of neurons, Dr. Fotuhi notes, but also helps those young neurons thrive. That can be a significant boost for memory. In fact, he adds that somestudies have suggested that walking just a mile a day might lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by nearly 40 percent.


Like the body, the brain ages and can show signs of deterioration along the way. But exercise can slow the process, according to a recent study.

Researchers asked 1,228 men and women about their exercise habits, then tested their cognitive abilities, including reasoning, thinking speed, memory and organization. They followed up five years later with the same tests on about half the study group.

They found those who did more physical activity during the five-year period scored higher on the cognitive ability tests than those who were more sedentary. One possible link, the researchers suggested, is exercise can lower risk factors that impair blood flow to the brain, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Not only does staying physically active lower the chances you’ll deal with those other chronic issues, but it also confers brain benefits along the way.


The advantages of exercise in terms of brain health may be helpful to keep in mind — no pun intended — if you’re struggling to stay on track with your goals or hitting a plateau. Remember that even if you’re not seeing physical results right now, your brain could be bulking up in the background and making huge improvements that will serve you well into the future.

For full article by Elizabeth Millard, visit

The power of sleep. Why sleep is so important, and how to get more of it.

If your eating and exercise are on point, but you still don’t feel or look the way you want, poor sleep may be to blame. Here’s how to tap into the power of sleep and make rest a daily priority.

Struggling with your weight? Feeling bummed out? Sluggish during workouts? Or just sluggish in general? These are common complaints from new Precision Nutrition Coaching clients. And poor diet isn’t always to blame.

Everything from lucid thinking, to good decision making, to proper digestion, to high performance is heavily dependent on getting good quality sleep.

Unfortunately, more than a third of adults get fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night, the minimum needed to keep your risk of health problems in check.

And that’s not counting the millions of folks who likely over-estimate how much sleep they’re getting, or whose sleep quality is poor because of other, seemingly unrelated lifestyle factors.

In this infographic, we unpack early indicators that you’re not getting enough rest. Then we share exactly how to prep for the best night sleep, starting with when you wake up.

Download the infographic for your tablet, or to print out, and keep it as a handy reminder to prioritize high-quality sleep every day.

(Note to fitness pros: This is also a great resource to share with your clients).

precision-nutrition-hacking sleep-IMAGE

There you have it: Why sleep is so important, how to tell if you’re not getting enough, and how to engineer the perfect day for a great night’s rest.


For full article by Brian St.Pierre go to
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