Your brain, an amazing 3-pound organ, controls and coordinates actions and reactions, allows you to think and feel, and enables you to have memories and feelings. Arguably the most important organ in the body, how can you take care of your brain effectively?
The good news is that the exercise you may think you’re doing for your body is tremendously beneficial for the brain. In Keep Sharp, neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Guptha’s new book, he says that physical exercise is the single best thing anyone can do for brain health. Other things are certainly helpful, but nothing else verifiably mitigates cognitive decline like physical movement.
From reducing inflammation to lowering levels of stress hormones, any amount of exercise is positive, but benefits seem to max out around 450 minutes (7.5 hours) a week. Dr. Gupta recommends a mix of cardio (walking included), weights and HIIT, because variety supports the development of neural networks.
The brain can often seem somehow separate from the muscles and other “hardware” of our body—yet, like any organ, it stays maintained through the physical movement of the whole. It’s easy to forget that the brain isn’t, first and foremost, for thinking. But who’s guiding our limbs and muscles to walk and run and sweat, after all? That’s right. In exercising, we nourish the brain and we let it practice what it does best—get us moving!