Picture yourself getting home from a ride on your electric bike. You raised your heart rate and pushed yourself to climb “that hill” a little harder. The stresses of the day have receded because you’re still thinking about the ride. The best part—you’ve gotten your daily exercise in! You’ve invested time today in having a healthy body tomorrow—that’s worth celebrating. Now if only there were exercises that could do the same thing for your brain…
Good news: there are. Even better news: they’re the exact same exercises. Yes, the best type of exercise for your brain is actual physical exercise. Researchers are only beginning to uncover the positive health effects of exercise on the brain, but it’s safe to say that long-term exercise is very often beneficial in three key areas: mental health, brain function, and staving off the effects of aging.
Exercise and Mental Health
Of course when asking a question like “can exercise be good for my mental health?,” it’s important to note that what is helpful for many people will not be helpful for all. Every person is different, but generally the evidence shows that regular exercise can– and often does– have a positive effect. The National Alliance on Mental Illnessrecommends regular exercise “for treating a variety of mental issues and mental health conditions” “such as bad moods, stress, chronic pain and chronic illness.” The Mayo Clinic goes on to say thatregular exercise may be beneficial for helping to manage depression and anxiety.
Exercise and Brain Function
According to Harvard Medical School,exercise can also help boost thinking skills."Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions," says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurology instructor at the school.
Dr. McGinnis likens an exercise regimen as “almost like taking a prescription medication. And since several studies have shown that it takes about six months to start reaping the cognitive benefits of exercise, he reminds you to be patient as you look for the first results — and to then continue exercising for life.”
Exercise and the Aging Brain
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh conducted a study and found that–among a sample of more than 700 participants in their early 70s–themore physically active the people were the less “brain shrinkage they had.” Alan Dow, the author of the study, says of the correlation:"Those who took more exercise had less brain atrophy, less damage to the wiring of the brain, and greater volumes of grey matter, which are the 'thinking' cells.” A separate study by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas concluded thataerobic exercise can preserve brain health and function and thereby possibly reduce the risk of dementia.
Of course the key is to any exercise regimen is staying consistent over the long-term, which isn’t easy—which is why an ebike is one of the best investments you can make for a healthy brain. Modulate the difficulty level at any time. Turn on the electric assist when you don’t have the energy; push yourself when you’re feeling it. It makes it easy to be consistent when you’ve got a little help along the way!