Exercise improves memory, eases anxiety and enhances mood
BY SUZY COHEN Dear Pharmacist
Saturday, January 26, 2013
1/31/13 at 3:09 PM
Dear Pharmacist, My New Year's resolution is to exercise more. My schedule allows me to go to the gym only twice per week. Will this help me feel better, in terms of anxiety or mood? - F.A., New York
While you tighten those abs, you increase happy brain chemicals, thus enhancing feelings of a good mood and reducing anxiety. Exercising during the day improves sleep.
To get these benefits, the CDC recommends that you get least two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week. So if you make it to the gym only twice a week, are you still getting the "brain" benefits the other five days of the week?
We all know our jeans fit better when we exercise, but how long will exercise boost brain function and mood? Dr. David Bucci, an associate professor of psychology and brain science at Dartmouth, says this varies from person to person.
Don't stop working out after you've achieved a size four! Researchers examined what happens to memory when exercise is suddenly halted, and the results were dramatic. After just one week, all the health and memory benefits declined in the rats who had been exercising. After 10 weeks of inactivity, the previously active rats' brains were almost indistinguishable from those of the sedentary rats!
What does this mean for us? It means get off your butt and shake your booty. I can tell you firsthand, when I hunkered down to write my first book in 2006, I ignored my exercise regimen for six months solid. I felt it, too. I kept losing my keys, documents on the computer ... I would forget what I went into the room for and stuff like that. Today, I don't hunker down, I allot time to write, as well as time to take a walk, hike, hula hoop, yoga, dance or do pilates. Something! I feel terrific, and my mind is very sharp.
If you're unable to exercise because of physical limitations, do one brain game per day like sudoku, scrabble or a crossword. It increases neuroplasticity, allowing your brain to grow cells, reorganize and rewire itself. Simply defined, neuroplasticity means: Use it or lose it.