Cardiovascular exercise holds a special place in health and fitness due to its far-reaching
benefits that extend beyond physical fitness and into cognitive and emotional well-being.
Engaging in cardio activities such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling for a total of 150-180
minutes per week can play a significant role in enhancing our brain function and emotional
Improved Blood Flow to the Brain:
Cardio exercise helps boost blood circulation throughout the body, including the brain. This is
important as the brain uses about 20% of the body's blood supply and oxygen. A study
conducted by the University of Maryland found that just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity
exercise can increase blood flow to the brain by as much as 15%. Better blood flow ensures a
steady supply of essential nutrients and oxygen to the brain, which is crucial for keeping our
minds sharp and functioning well.
Participating in cardio exercise can also help improve the quality of our sleep. While it may not
always make us feel like we've slept better, research has shown that engaging in vigorous exercise can help us fall asleep faster and deepen our sleep by enhancing the stability of slow-wave sleep, a critical stage of sleep for restoration and recovery For instance, a study published in the Scientific Reports found that 60 minutes of vigorous exercise can significantly increase slow-wave sleep stability, promoting better sleep quality.
Stress Relief and Better Mood:
Cardio exercise is a natural mood lifter. It triggers the release of endorphins, serotonin, and
dopamine—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. A study in JAMA Psychiatry found that individuals who engaged in regular aerobic exercise were 25% less likely to develop depression. This helps in reducing stress and anxiety, promoting a positive mood and overall emotional well-being.
Protection Against Cognitive Decline:
Regular cardio exercise is a proactive way to keep our minds sharp as we age. It's linked to a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia. A study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease showed that individuals who engaged in aerobic exercise had a 40% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those who did not exercise. By engaging in cardio exercise, we're taking steps towards preserving our cognitive health and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
Incorporating 150-180 minutes of cardio exercise weekly is an achievable goal that offers a host of benefits extending beyond physical improvement. Exercise is one of the best things we can do for our brains and gives many more benefits than those listed here. Any exercise will always be better than no exercise so if you can’t make 150-180 minutes then do what you can and try small steps to make yourself more active in your daily life whether that is at work, school, or home. This practice significantly contributes to enhancing cognitive function, emotional well-being, and overall brain health.
At the Brain Performance Center we use EEG brain mapping to objectively measure brainwave function. An EEG brain map can identify electrical dysfunctions in the brain that are often the root cause of cognitive decline. An EEG brain map takes the guessing out of mental health. It provides an objective measure of how each region of your brain is functioning, much like an EKG measures your heart function.
An EEG brain map helps direct personalized treatments aimed at improving the brain function causing the symptoms. Additionally, another EEG brain map after treatment can objectively measure improvements. You can’t change behavior without first addressing the brain dysfunction causing the behavior.