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The Magic Bullet

Exercise got me through physics. When I was stumped by a hard problem, I’d lace up my running shoes and head out the door for a jog. I never failed to come back with a fresh outlook and usually a ready solution to what had been puzzling me. Now I understand why.

As a physical therapist, I have always been a proponent of exercise. I just read a book that gives me more cause to promote the healing art of movement.

The book is called Brain Rules. The author, John Medina, listed twelve rules about how a brain functions, all based on reputable research in the field of Neuroscience. Medina calls exercise the one magic bullet for improving brain function.

Studies have shown that the incidence of Alzheimer’s decreased 50% for people who exercise. Even for people with dementia, clarity improved once they started exercising. Exercise enhanced standardized test scores for children, and those same test scores plummeted just as quickly after kids stopped moving.

Being active helps combat depression and anxiety. In some cases, people can decrease or eliminate medication after starting a regular aerobic exercise program.

Why? A person who exercises develops a rich supply of blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain, and having more oxygen rich blood means free radicals are destroyed. Less garbage in the brain translates into mental sharpness.

Physical activity creates the chemical BDNF, which Dr. Medina calls Miracle Grow for the brain. 30 minutes of aerobic exercise done just twice a week produces BDNF and makes more neurons that are resistant to damage and stress.

If something is stopping you from exercising, find a solution. If it’s joint pain or soreness, see your physical therapist to correct the problem, and learn which aerobic exercise is right for you. If motivation is the issue, find a group to exercise with, or make an exercise appointment, but do what it takes to make exercise a priority. It’s your magic bullet. Start today.

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