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Your Brain Responds Differently to Various Forms of Exercise

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

exercise great for brain health

Story at-a-glance -

  • Low- and high-intensity exercise affects specific functional networks within the brain at rest, following exercise
  • While both of the exercise types in one study led to significant increases in positive mood and no changes in negative mood, differences were noted in functional connectivity networks
  • After low-intensity exercise, functional connectivity associated with cognitive processing and attention were increased, while high-intensity exercise led to increased functional connectivity in networks involved in affective, emotional processes, and decreased functional connectivity in networks associated with motor function
  • Leg strength can be used as a strong predictor for brain health
  • A systematic review on yoga’s effects on brain health revealed that this form of exercise could potentially mitigate age-related and neurodegenerative declines
  • There are benefits to be had from many different forms of exercise, from HIIT to low-intensity workouts to strength training and yoga; regularly rotating different activities into your fitness routine will keep your brain strong

Exercise is great for your brain health, but just as different forms of physical activity work different parts of your body, different parts of your brain are targeted as well. Writing in the journal Brain Plasticity, researchers looked into how low- and high-intensity exercise affects specific functional networks within the brain at rest, following exercise.

Physical activity enhances affective, cognitive and attentional processes in the brain in the minutes and hours after exercise, which the researchers believed could be due to changes in coherent neuronal activity, otherwise known as “resting state functional connectivity” (rs-FC). Past studies have found increased rs-FC following long-term, repeated exercise training.


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