“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”- Nietzsche
Physical acitivity has a positive affect on brain health. It improves cognitive function- both fluid and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence refers to the ability to think in a flexible manner and solve problems. It does not reflect acquired knowledge. Crystallized intelligence involves learned skills and more concrete thought and performance.
Exercise also increases the development of white matter and growth of new neurons in the brain, improving brain function.
Hormones called “growth factors” are released when we exercise and have been directly linked to improved brain health. The hippocampus, a region of the brain crucial for learning and memory, is thought to benefit directly from these hormones. Bergland, Christopher: Can Physical Activities Improve Fluid Intelligence. Psychology Today (December 2013)
Nietzsche was correct. Physical acitivity helps helps cognitive function. In addition to the science, being outside and experiencing nature has a positive emotional effect. It helps in “grounding” the person emotionally and mentally.
I am a runner. I have experienced “great thoughts” during a run. My mind clears from the daily chatter of worries, anxiety, fear, and my depression lifts for a while. Endorphins are incredible. I am open to creativity and problem solving. Poems. Blog posts. I work on skills that I need to continue to develop lost after the brain injury. I almost feel like I did before the injury.
There are many reasons that moderate physical acitivity is good for people. Some examples:
- It slows aging
- It regenerates neuorons and white brain matter.
- It improves cardio- vascular health
- It can lower cholesterol
- It can improve depression and anxiety
Moderate exercise is enough to improve brain function.