Moving Bodies, Thinking Brains

Dr. Debbye Bell, in a US television show on CBS, reported that exercise can make you brain-healthy. As she interviewed many fellow doctors, researchers, and educators in the field, she concluded that there is such a strong link between exercise and increased brain function.

In my practice, I've noticed that clients who took physical exercise workouts during the period of their psychotherapy sessions tend to have faster improvement compared to those who preferred to skip activity. When bodies are moving and brains are thinking together, that spells real-time recovery.

Therapy and counseling involves a lot of brain work. Relearning. Learning. As psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey put it, "Exercise optimizes the brain for learning. It creates the right environment for all of our 100 billion nerve cells up there." Yes, our brains change when we exercise.

Dr. Ratey, who teaches at Harvard Medical School, further explains the value of exercise for brain health: "It produces these growth factors ... and I call it miracle grow for the brain or brain fertilizer which helps the brain cells stay alive, live longer, and it helps the learning process."

We are not total victims of our genes or lifestyle. Even our age! Research shows that older people who exercise are less likely to experience cognitive decline. We hear it again and again. Exercise controls cardiovascular risk factors and gives new life to our body's organs.

That definitely includes brain health.

It's never too late to begin taking advantage of "moving bodies" to improve our thinking brains. It not only delays mental decline. It also improves our moods and control over our response to stress and life's circumstances.