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Think Better, Learn Better and Focus Better: An active brain needs an active body

Fire up your brain with physical activity

kids doing yogaSummer has drawn to a close. And whether you’re back at work looking to nail that promotion, have kids back at school wanting to ace their next test or are simply hoping to dominate your next group trivia night, try getting your heart pumping and sweat pouring for an added boost of brain power.

Now, before you start mashing keys and Googling the connection between brain health and physical activity, let’s stop you right there: the connection is strong.

Growing research supports that certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus and basal ganglia (two parts of the brain dedicated to memory and learning), are very responsive to physical activity.

In more plain terms, living an active lifestyle and regularly getting the recommended minutes of physical activity every week (adults need 150 minutes of weekly moderate-to-vigorous activity while children and youth need 60 minutes per day) is an excellent way to boost our brain power. Parents, do your best to regularly incorporate a bit of physical activity into your daily routine and set an active example for your children, you could even use our ‘Build Your Best Day’ website and plan out an entire day of active fun for the family.

When it comes to children and youth, specifically, there is preliminary evidence that indicates physical activity is important for healthy brains and can lead to improved:

  • Thinking and learning
  • Emotional regulation and self-control
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Memory
  • The growth of new brain tissue
  • Stress management
  • Ability to cope with anxiety and depressive symptoms
  • Self-esteem and self-worth
  • Attention and focus

guy with a notebook

Those are some seriously impressive improvements that come along with children and youth getting active.

Boosting kids’ activity levels could also be the missing part of the equation in supporting their mental health, too, as kids who are active may experience reduced levels of anxiety, stress and depressive symptoms than those who are inactive.

Even more impressive? Those benefits can extend into adulthood, as well. Check out the following ways getting active can help improve mental health and cognitive sharpness:

Focus Better – Physical activity, specifically aerobic activity, positively affects our ability to focus and concentrate – and that goes for kids, teens and adults. After just 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, the brain works harder to resist distractions, improving your ability to pay attention.

Learn Better – Getting active can directly translate into better learning outcomes. Physical activity helps with priming the brain for learning by increasing alertness, memory, and information retention and recall. Individuals who regularly move tend to score better on tests or assessments, especially if done right before completing a task.

Create Better – Daily physical activity is scientifically proven to improve divergent (using imagination) and convergent thinking (using logic) – two key components of creative thinking. So, no matter how you choose to get active, that movement will help you kick it up a notch in your next brainstorming session.

Think Better – Research shows that aerobic physical activity stimulates the brain. In fact, studies indicate that people who exercise regularly are consistently more productive after seven hours of work than those who don’t. They have better executive function, more energy, less stress, clearer minds, more confidence, better memory, enhanced concentration and more creativity.

Regardless of what it is you are trying to achieve – better grades, a big promotion or nailing the next Sunday crossword – physical activity can help you, and your brain, get there. Don’t overthink it, simply throw on some kicks and comfortable clothing and get your butt moving!

Take our latest quiz to find your back-to-school or back-to-work activity

With busy work schedules and social calendars starting to occupy a lot of your free time, finding the right activity to stay moving can be a bit tricky. Let us help you find the right activity for your back-to-school or back-to-work routine with our latest quiz so you can get the most out of your busy week!

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