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Exercise Your Body, Strengthen Your Brain

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Exercise can stave off high blood pressure, keep your blood sugar in-check, and help you lose weight. It can also normalize certain existing health problems like diabetes. There’s even research showing exercise may result in better brain function. Here’s how to use this information to your advantage.

The Benefit Of Walking

Research has shown that walking improves brain function. Initially, this seemed like an impossible thing to prove. When people exercise, they could be experiencing something called the placebo effect. A placebo refers to a beneficial effect that’s noticed in the absence of the thing being tested.

For example, to test whether people actually do have improved brain function as a result of walking, researchers would have to use two groups of test subjects – one group that exercises and one that doesn’t. Then, measure their cognitive improvement. If both groups experience an improvement in brain function, then there may be other factors that explain why people feel better when they exercise or one might say that exercise isn’t the cause of improved brain function.

But, the problem is that there’s no real way to give a placebo for exercising. People know when they’re walking or not. So, researchers at Florida State University in Tallahassee and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign decided to figure this out using a slightly different method. They tested peoples’ expectations from exercising – what people think they would experience from walking.

If peoples’ expectations were in-line with what actually happened, then the researchers may be able to assign some of the benefits to the walking. They divided people into two groups. The first group was made up of walkers. The second group was made up of people doing stretching and toning workouts.

The stretching and toning group believed they would experience an improvement in cognitive function. The walking group also believed it would be good for them.

What they found was that the stretching and toning group didn’t actually experience any improvement in brain function, while the walking group did – an amazing discovery.

Running Helps Too

Researchers have also found that running improves brain function in a similar manner as walking, but it’s also easy to overdo it with running. Mice that were put on a wheel and allowed to run for 7 nights experienced a 171 percent increase in a special neurotransmitter that’s responsible for supporting and strengthening synapses in the brain. But, these ultrahigh endurance mice also ended up burning out over the long-term. Ultimately, they became terrible at navigating the test maze over time.

How It Works And How To Make It Work For You

One thing to keep in mind is that the newer studies are showing the effect of hormetic stress. In other words, stress that’s just high enough to cause an adaptive response, but not so high that it causes catastrophic failure of the system.

It’s a delicate balance. Too much exercise can be harmful. But too little doesn’t provide any benefit.

And, things get complicated when you have health problems. For example, if you have diabetes, you’re going to want something like OneTouch Ping Insulin Pumps to control your insulin while you’re lifting weights or cycling. Why?

Because even moderate exercise, for diabetics, can negatively impact blood sugar levels.

If you have heart problems, or have had a heart attack or stroke in the past, this too can alter the beneficial effects from exercise. So, while exercise is beneficial, there’s a caveat: always check with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you.

May Dougherty believes in the excellent health benefits of exercise. A long time Pilates instructor, she hopes to help others find fitness by posting her informative articles on the web. Look for her interesting posts on many of today’s top websites.

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