The Brain and Exercise

I will gladly admit that I know next to nothing really about the brain and I honestly do not feel bad about this. I believe I should know some things being that I am a health sciences professional but mind you that people who study the brain for a living, know next to nothing about the brain themselves. I did a quick Google search before I began writing this blog. I kept my search fairly broad, “the power of the brain”, there’s actually a book titled exactly that. I clicked on one of the first results to pop up. This simple search yielded this: “Your brain consists of 100 BILLION cells, EACH ONE of which connects to 1,000 other brain cells, making a total of 100,000 BILLION connections. There are more cell connection points in the human brain than THERE ARE STARS IN OUR GALAXY.” Now, think about that for just a second. Think of how vast the galaxy is. How much mystery and secrecy that lies beyond the stars and planets we can see. And, in all that depth, there lies MORE SECRETS in your head. Unbelievable

Now, rather than trying to further explain everything the brain is capable of, I’m just going to explain what real exercise can do for it. We all know that the more stimulation you provide the brain via reading or answering comprehension questions or solving math problems, the stronger the brain gets. This is fact. Well, what about providing the brain stimulation, in a physical arena? We all need to read, we all need to do math (yes, you do), we all need to be able to put words and phrases together to make comprehensible sentences. Is it not logical to think that we should all be able to provide the brain stimulation via physical movements as well? Of course it is. But, is your current fitness regimen doing that? We all love sitting on the stationary bike and watching tv but the very nature of it screams mindlessness. YOU AREN’T EVEN STEERING THE BIKE. Bicep curls? Nope. Leg extensions? Nope. Basically anytime you’re sitting on a machine? Nope. Is there really any higher level thinking going on when you SIT down and do lat pull-downs? It’s not even a pull-UP, which actually has utility. You aren’t learning to pull yourself above an apparatus. You’re SITTING and pulling something DOWN. No, REAL exercise requires stimulation of the brain. You have to LEARN how to do it. The deadlift may be a simple exercise but if you’ve never done one we’re going to have to spend some time in front a mirror to ensure you stop going around your knees as you stand. The squat also seems uncomplicated but if you’ve never done one with weight on your back the second you start having the majority of your weight on your toes, I’m going to have to bring you back up and cue some shift in your weight distribution. 

This simple explanation of real movement does beg a question. If you’re doing movements that can largely be done on auto-pilot, is it any wonder you aren’t seeing results? I don’t mean to belittle anything you might be doing at the moment, any exercise is better than none, but it does make you wonder. 

I don’t know much about the brain and neither do a lot of other folks but I do know a lot about the deadlift, squat, snatch, clean and jerk, pull-up and handstand push-up, and they have a great effect on your brain.