I heard Wendy Suzuki’s Ted Talk about the above-mentioned title of this article and had the urge of jotting down a few very informative points of hers. Wendy, a professor of Neural Science and Psychology at New York University, proclaims that exercise actually changes the physiological and anatomical functions of your brain.
In technical terms, it affects two parts of the brain; the Hippocampus, where most of your long-term memories are created and stored, and the Prefrontal Cortex that has information about your personality and decision making.
Now, in order for the common man to perceive this, (as I’m sure the only thing that came in your mind was a hippo, in general) the following are the major effects that you would see immediately after a workout session:
- An energy and happiness boost. This is due to an excess release of neurotransmitters likeSerotonin, inducing a sense of well-being.
- Improvement in focus-spans for at least 2 hours after the workout.
- Attaining a better reaction time. (This one is specifically important to make sure you catch the falling cup of coffee from the Starbucks counter.)
These immediate effects, although great for your mental well-being, induce an even greater effect if continued for a longer term. Suzuki claims that long-term exercise actually increases the volume of the Hippocampus and Prefrontal Cortex leading to a stronger brain which has the ability to fight against neurodegenerative disorders like Dementia (memory loss) and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Suzuki’s research on the subject is far from complete and her aim is to find just the right amount of exercise for each individual with his own genetics and physical ability. This would help to attain the maximum protective function of the brain which would not only delay neurodegenerative diseases but aging itself.
What’s the minimum amount of exercise that you need to do in order to attain these benefits? Suzuki advises exercise at least 3 days a week for half an hour.