Fire Up the Body/Fire Up the Brain

photo by Ian Schneider

photo by Ian Schneider

The brain controls almost everything we do. From memory, attention span, motor control, spacial perception, and more, we have upwards of 100 billion neurons communicating with each other at all times. It seems to me that we should bow down in reverence to this amazing piece of work that has everything to do with concentration, focus, and mood!

By now we know that exercise definitely improves our brain function. With movement as the key to flexibility, it is no wonder that a regular fitness program helps us improve our mental powers. The scientific reality behind this is that with every mental action, structural changes are made in the synapses between each neuron in the brain. This means that as we move and provide the brain with greater circulation of blood, oxygen, and general nutrition, we're strengthening our mental abilities.

Neurons are the brain's keys to health. Deep within our nervous systems, each neuron communicates with the other, transmitting information to cells in the nerves, glands, and muscles. The cerebellum at the back of the brain right under the occipital lobe, contains almost half of the brain's neurons, even though it comprises a mere 1/10th of the area. This is the most complex part of the brain, relating to some of the most important functions, including being the center of motor control. The cerebellum processes both movement and learning. Studies show that those of us who exercise often tend to have more capillaries around the neurons here, which means more circulation, nutrition, and activation.

There are four main arteries supporting the brain: two carotid arteries, as well as branches governing anterior circulation; and two vertebral arteries for posterior circulation. Then of course there are blood vessels coming off the larger vessels, nourishing the deep areas of brain. With all this activity, large amounts of oxygen are required. As blood flow increases through physical movement, oxygen increases and the blood brain barrier, which forms a protective layer around the brain, is better able to let essential nutritional substances in and out.

Through a good fitness technique we can nourish our brain cells through the release of oxygen, as well as the many hormones that contribute to increasing the growth factor in this area. As the brain is suffused with nutrients, it develops new neuronal connections, helping us feel clearer, smarter, and more alert.

Working our bodies through stretching and strengthening exercises also has an anti-depressant effect by diminishing the potency of stress hormones. In turn, exercise enhances endorphin output, helping us feel better.

By firing up the body through exercise we fire up the brain. When we're activated this way we feel better and are then more able to rise to our highest physical and mental potential. So... keep yourself fit and feel your brain power rising to the occasion!

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