Your body was meant to move. Your body is an energy burning machine. Our cooling systems were developed to run long distances, our muscle fibers can be built to handle incredible weight, and our minds become sharpened by the consistent work that our bodies do. Maintaining a habit for exercise clearly helps your body and your brain in many ways.

1.  Exercise works out your brain.
The brain is a muscle just like the rest of the body, but it has specific areas in charge of information processing and bodily functions. For example, the front part of the brain is the frontal cortex, which is responsible for the reasoning that humans use to make rational decisions. The rational decision to exercise following a good night’s rest is an example of the first part of the brain’s exercise. The neurons inside your brain create a command to send through the electrical impulse pathway that is the central nervous system to activate the muscle fiber. The muscle fiber contracts and the joints move in concert with the brain’s eye coordination. With exercise, the brain is literally utilizing the pathways created to move the muscles. Like a muscle in your arm, if it is not used, it is generally not maintained, as the body will not commit resources to it. So, exercise maintains the pathways and strengthens the brain. Consistent exercise can increase the amount of gray matter in the brain, which is the general term used for brain tissue.

2.  Exercise increases the efficacy of neuroplasticity.
Picture the brain as a network of neural pathways, each pathway is a road for a potential electrical impulse to travel as it performs its function within the body. These pathways are vast, and connections and intersections exist in every portion of the brain. Neuroplasticity is the idea that, if there is an injury in the brain, and part of the brain cannot function correctly, the brain will heal and alternately find other neural pathways to send the message it needs to. Through neuroplasticity, the brain will deliberately identify “detours” with which the electrical impulse can travel through the body and mind, completing its function. These detours allow the body to function, but using different neurological pathways, and exercise is the active processing of more pathways. Neuroplasticity is evident in patients who suffer from spinal injury that recover and are able to move again. The body and mind are relearning the way to move, including the development of new pathways where electrical impulses can move and a brain’s commands can be sent.

3.  Exercise prevents some serious neurological damage from occurring.
Consistent cardio improves the overall blood flow in our bodies. The vascular system consist of the pathways where our body moves the nutrients and energy that is used to maintain all of our bodily functions. If our body’s neurological pathways were an electrical and communications grid, the blood vessels and arteries would be the roadways that move the steel, the fiber optic wire, and the laborers that build the grid. Consistent exercise maintains those blood vessels and arteries, or roadways.

Common high risk injuries to brain tissue and neurological function are clogged arteries and blood vessels, whether through a blood clot or plaque building up from excess bad cholesterol. Exercise can help improve vascular health and reduce the risk of stroke.

Exercise, when varied and including cardio and weight training, can produce a host of other mental, neurological, and cognitive benefits. It is not a magical cure-all, but when combined with an integrated lifestyle, often improves your entire well being. Consider all of the benefits of exercise, and physical activity, and feel the improvement that can benefit your life through a good workout.