Get Physical in Santa Monica Gyms: Exercise Improves Mental Health

Maybe you’re thinking of hitting workout gyms in Santa Monica to strengthen your biceps, flatten your belly, or tone your thighs. Maybe you want to exercise to ward off illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases. However, did you know that committing to a good exercise routine also improves the mind? Harvard Health Publications reports on this little known fact:

"There's a lot you can do to prevent cognitive decline, or slow it down, or to recover memory function that you might feel you have lost," says Dr. John Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (2008). The secret? Regular exercise.

A lot of research suggests that exercising moderately and regularly stimulates brain regions involved in memory function to release a chemical called brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF).

BDNF rewires memory circuits so they work better. "When you exercise and move around, you are using more brain cells," Dr. Ratey says. "Using more brain cells turns on the genes to make more BDNF. 

"My older patients do say they feel sharper," Dr. Ratey says. "They feel that they're remembering things better. I do think there is evidence for that."

Dr. Ratey’s statements offer solid proof that a person's ability to process and recall information is greatly enhanced by good health habits. When you exercise your body, you exercise your brain. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to use exercise to enhance brainpower:

  • A brisk and intense workout can quickly improve blood flow to the brain. Good exercises to do include running in place, squat bends, or a short and fast jump rope session.
  • Taking up a new workout routine that involves fancy footwork and/or hand-eye coordination can help improve your concentration skills. Sports like tennis, table tennis, and badminton are good examples.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of exercise or understand programs that address all aspects of fitness; if you just need to know how you can get the most out of your time in the gym or simply start a quality exercise regimen that you can stick to, feel free to visit popular Santa Monica gyms and talk to one of their certified personal trainers.

(Source: Get your heart pumping in the fight against forgetfulness, Harvard Health Publications, May, 2013)