If you’ve ever felt yourself nodding off at work or school, turns out a little bit of exercise might be better than a shot of caffeine. Recent studies have shown that exercise significantly promotes cognitive ability and creativity.
This is great news for anybody looking for a few more reasons to exercise every day or anyone wondering how to combat that afternoon mental slump. Even a brief workout can help to literally get the blood flowing and make it easier for you to put your brain back to work.
Exercise Benefits on the Short and Long Terms
It’s not uncommon to hear someone say they’ve had a burst of clear thinking or sudden creativity just after a rousing workout. The reason for this is so simple that some of us might even want to go ahead and file it under “obvious.”
When you work out, you get your blood flowing a lot more. The increase in blood pressure and blood flow throughout your entire body means that your brain gets a lot more oxygen, which is exactly what it needs.
All that extra blood is like opening up a can of spinach and then watching your brain’s biceps balloon as a result.
Scientific American points out that exercise also has a few other solid benefits:
“Another explanation for why working up a sweat enhances our mental capacity is that the hippocampus, a part of the brain critical for learning and memory, is highly active during exercise.”
Hooray for the Hippocampus!
As you get older, your hippocampus is naturally going to shrink, which will bring about diminished cognitive function and a decline in things like short-term memory.
This is why folks have a tendency to lose their memory as they get older. The hippocampus shrinks, and it gets tougher and tougher to keep those mental faculties sharp.
Exercise, though, in addition to sending a lot more blood and oxygen to your brain, stimulates the neurons in your hippocampus. This can actually help keep it from shrinking over the long-term. This basically means that the more you exercise, the longer you stay sharp.
Not only can a solid workout help you get over your midday brain fade, but it can help you make sure that you don’t have a permanent brain fade as you start to ease into your golden years.
Some Solid Exercise Tips
When life gets busy, many of us find it difficult to squeeze in a regular workout routine. But with a little creativity and dedication, it’s easy to get moving.
One great way to get a work some exercise into your busy schedule is to make some time for it during the work day. See if you can find a way to take a brief jog or do some yoga while you take a break at work. The fresh air and blood flow will boost your productivity and make for a very happy boss.
Early morning is another great time for working out. Starting your day off with some exercise and a shower leads to a feeling of freshness that’s pretty tough to match, unless you live near the ocean. Waking up an hour earlier might be a solid idea if it means better performance at work!
Do you have any exercise tips? Let us know in the comments.