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Climb for your brain’s health

Exercising not only works on your body, but it works on your brain too!

In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus.  The Hippocampus is a part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning.

Being active through exercise improves memory and thinking both directly and indirectly.  Exercise allows our bodies to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and stimulate the release of growth factors.  It also improves both mood and sleep and reduces stress and anxiety (Harvard Health Letter April 9, 2014).  In fact, regular exercise over a six-month stretch is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions according to Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham Women’s Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Eat brain food too!  These foods are associated with improved brain health: fish rich in omega oil like salmon; cocoa (no, not chocolate although dark chocolate does count), blueberries and strawberries have anti-oxidant properties.  Also, kale, quinoa, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, carrots, nuts, tomatoes, avocado, kale, whole grains, beets, coffee and seaweed.  So, think about what you are putting in your body, it fuels your brain.  When taking a healthy snack to work or the gym, consider one of these over chips and candy.

We also know that starting a regular exercise program at middle-age pushes back cognitive decline by as much as 15 years!  So, get on the wall!  Recommendations advise 30-minutes of moderate exercise daily.  Climbing sessions can last hours, especially when you have friends in tow.  Think about scheduling a regular meet up time at the gym each day.  Get a group of climbers together and learn from each other.  It is so much fun and really, where are you gonna get a better full body/brain work out?

And remember, HYDRATE!

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