Brain Fog. Overwhelm. Clouding of Consciousness. Pregnant brain. Mommy brain. It doesn't matter what you call it, clouded thinking seems to effect us all. And on a daily basis. I can attest that post-twins and during this pregnancy (can you believe I, Nicole, am due in just 8 short weeks!?) I often feel like it's a miracle I can remember anything at all. I am guessing you can relate. Because our world is throwing new information, and a lot of it, at us constantly. There is work pressure, parenting pressure, illnesses that creep up all around us, taking care of those around us, making time for ourselves (phew), and so much more. It's no wonder our thoughts are often jumbled. Distraction abounds, so it's no wonder we crave focus, clarity, and peace of mind. Wouldn't it be nice to always remember where we put our keys or the phone when we need it!?
This time of year we are inundated with the idea that it's "time to lose weight". Quite frankly, that feels like a lot of pressure, and honestly- we don't have that much control over weight loss because weight loss is only an outcome...not a behavior. So what would it mean to focus on getting more movement because of how it makes us feel, think, and engage on a daily basis rather than some number on a scale?
Your workout is worth so much more than simply giving you an extra calorie burn in your body.
Exercise is good for your brain! Science shows that complicated activities like playing tennis or taking a dance class, or even trying a new activity provide the biggest brain boost by increasing the level of growth factors in the brain, helping you make new connections and brain cells. "You're challenging your brain even more when you have to think about coordination," explains Ratey, Harvard Med School and author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”. He adds, "Like muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow". Putting stress on your brain by stimulating your thinking while you workout has the added benefit of increasing blood flow to the brain too.
A recent study published in the Archives of Neurology suggests that a simple daily walk or jog could lower the risk of Alzheimer's (disease which causes severe memory loss over time)—or blunt its impact once it has begun.
We don’t fully know how or why activity improves memory and brain function, but here are a couple of fun facts about what we do know:
- Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is released with activity to protect the brain from emotional disorders and repairs damage from stress and depression. (Repair stress? I am IN)
- In 2000, Dutch researchers found that inactive men who were genetically prone to Alzheimer's were four times more likely to develop the disease than those who carried the trait but exercised regularly. (Exercise can reduce risk for dementia and Alsheimer's- yay!)
And here is the best part...
“Even 10 minutes of activity can change your brain” - John Ratay
What will you do today to boost your brain by engaging your body?!
Try something new, or up the challenge in your next workout by adding some balance exercises or doing a few more complicated moves. Not only will your fun factor go up, but your memory will get moving up too!