Throughout the lovelorn ages, poets, songwriters and talkshow hosts have espoused the idea that ‘Before you love someone else, you must first love yourself.’
While our tender high-school hearts might not have agreed, it makes a little more sense now that our raging teenage hormones have passed: When you’re happy, the world, and the people in it, are a little more approachable.
That being said, welcome back to La Jolla Sports Club‘s award-winning ‘Go Love Yourself’ series. Last week, we focused on how exercise benefits the body. This week, we’re going to focus on the benefits to your brain (WARNING: this article might be a little… dry, but it’s insightful).
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (sexy, right?)
How are your brain-derived neurotrophic factor proteins these days? Oh, mmmhmmmm, yes, that sounds great. OK, well, if you want more BDNF flowing through your hippocampus, it’s time to start exercising. If you’re already exercising, it’s time to kick it up a notch. A few scientists in Ireland studied the effects of exercise on short-term memory and found a positive correlation between exercise and BDNF, which is known to promote the health of brain cells.
Remembering to buy milk after your Tough Love class is great, but what about long-term memory? Welp, exercise has been shown to increase that, as well. An interesting study found that the delay in studying was key, however. Members of the experiment who tried to memorize photos immediately after exercising did not retain the knowledge, whereas participants who studied the photos four hours after exercising retained the most. The scientists behind the study aren’t yet sure of the cause, but it’s an exciting start.
Text messages. Emails. Scrolling feeds and 24hr news channels. ‘Why didn’t you ‘like’ my page that I spent a whole 127 seconds putting together?’ … Ugh, enough. Want help ignoring the nonsense? Exercise is your friend. It’s been shown that physically-fit people are better equipped at focusing during a ‘cognitively challenging task.’ The same study showed that even sedentary individuals can achieve higher levels of focus by working out, resulting in ‘a brain that is more efficient, plastic, and adaptive.’ (*cough* La Jolla Sports Club Personal Trainers are fantastic).
And speaking of, focusing takes a lot of willpower. And speaking of, willpower is directly and positively affected by short bouts of exercise. Hosting a birthday party for little Timmy this weekend? Maybe hop into one of our classes before those 20 third graders come to visit.
In yet another study, exercise was found to improve executive functions, which are your higher-level functions. Problem solving, organizing, planning, switching between tasks–all of these are positively affected by visiting your friends at La Jolla Sports Club.
There are so many more benefits that we could go on about, but one of our favorites is the increase in cognitive speed and thinking quickly on your feet. Say goodbye to that witty reply you think of an hour after the moment has passed.
OK, that’s probably enough for today… But if your brain is hungry for one more little nugget, an up-and-coming school called Harvard had this to say about exercise and brain function.
How’s your short- and long-term memory these days? Have you noticed any difference before and after exercising? Leave a comment below!
Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we’ll discuss the emotional benefits to exercise. Until then, have a great rest of the week / end and happy Valentine’s Day!
// Your La Jolla Sports Club team