Tomorrow should be 'brain day' at the gym 💪

We’ve all heard of that guy who "forgets" leg-day at the gym every week, but have you ever heard of forgetting brain-day?

To many people's surprise, our brains need exercise just as much as our bodies need it. So much so, that last year the National Physical Activity Guidelines were updated to include exercise for cognitive brain function. The evidence is indisputable, seeing exercise be linked to improved memory, mental resilience, focus, and critical thinking, as well as promoting healthy sleep – have we got your attention?

Your brain is like a vampire...blood = power

By raising your heart rate during cardio exercise you increase the blood flow to your brain, essentially feeding it. When your heart rate is higher you breathe harder and faster thus pumping more oxygen into your blood and delivering it to the brain. It has been found that oxygen in the brain encourages Neurogenesis - the production of neurons in the amygdala and hippocampus, parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning. 

Recent studies found that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) training offsets cognitive decline illnesses such as dementia by boosting cerebral blood flow (the amount of blood supplied to the brain). Specifically, one study found that just 4 sets of high intensity walking for 4 minutes followed by a short recovery and repeated, resulted in up to 30% improved memory scores in subjects.

Take your brain down a new path

Our brains develop at a rapid rate according to the quality of our experiences up until around 25yrs. From 25-65yrs there are many different things we can do to promote neuroplasticity (our brain’s ability to adapt) by challenging our brains through experience. Two of the best things you can do in your adult life is to learn a new language or play an instrument. These kinds of constantly diverse and focused exercises encourage the brain to find new pathways and improve memory and attention.

Who said your phone reduces your attention span?

If you're not musically inclined and you are looking for an option beyond language, brain training phone apps are a great alternative. A systematic review of a wide range of brain training apps found that BrainHQ and Cognifit were the two apps with the most transference from the tasks themselves onto other related real-world cognition. By focusing mainly on adapting visual cues, your brain is forced to absorb its surroundings, memorize, adapt and recall, so that it can create new pathways for future memory tasks.