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Work out your mind with cardio exercise

October 1, 2014

Although the name implies that the benefits are exclusive to your heart, cardio exercise can actually be good for your entire body. It can help promote circulation, strengthen and tone your muscles and even provide you with a healthier mind. The effects of exercise on cognition and mood have long been studied, and researchers continue to discover new mental benefits that are sure to motivate you to put on your sneakers. According to recent research from the University of British Columbia, the heart-pumping exercise has been shown to improve your memory.

Expand your mind with cardio
Researchers from UBC honed in on women between the ages of 70 and 80 years old to study whether regular cardio exercise could help certain parts of the brain typically affected by the process of growing older. The hippocampus, which is the area of your mind responsible for learning and memory, is especially sensitive to aging and neurological damage. After two weekly sessions of aerobic exercise for six months, it was found that it did, in fact, significantly promote healthy aging. The size of the hippocampus actually expanded in those who participated in consistent cardio exercise. The same benefits weren't seen in those who only engaged in strength training activities or other exercises.

Improve your mind one step at a time
Your memory is just one small part of your mind that's affected by exercise. According to Wink News Fitness Expert Mike Drumm, the effects can be seen throughout your mind, and include benefits to your mood and stress levels. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that actually make you feel happier. As a result, exercise is a great coping mechanism for those going through difficult times or just looking to feel a little bit perkier.

Additionally, cardio exercise can provide the same - if not better - results of a sleeping pill, noted Drumm. For those with insomnia, this is great news, since trouble falling or staying asleep is one of the most frustrating issues people can experience on a daily basis. Plus, your overall mental and physical health is largely dependent on a good night's sleep. Drumm recommended exercising about five to six hours before bedtime to temporarily raise your body temperature and then drop it back down when it's time to sleep, which can encourage your body to feel tired and get to sleep faster.