This is another way exercising can help your brain

This is another way exercising can help your brain

Do you get distracted easily or have trouble focusing? Exercise might help.

A unique study of athletes’ brains showed that people who play sports are better at ignoring background noise and focusing on sounds that really count. The study tested athletes and other subjects by attaching electrodes to the scalps of participants and recording the electricity their brains produced in response to sounds.

Dr. Kate Essad, Lead of Sports Neurology, Director of Concussion Management at Aurora Health Center in Milwaukee, says that “by doing activities like sports, which require habituation of reaction time and integrating many different sensory systems, your brain can function faster and it can perform tasks faster – and probably better.”

“Most neurological conditions, migraine, dementia – all of them are benefitted by regular exercise because the brain requires fresh blood flow and cardiovascular conditioning,” she says. “And all of these conditions are reduced by stimulating your brain. It’s the most important thing for dementia and cognitive decline – things people get when they age.”

It’s worth mentioning there are countless experiences you can add to sports and exercise that provide the kind of enrichment our brains crave such as reading and writing, playing musical instruments or learning new languages.

“To ensure brain health, challenge yourself physically and mentally every day,” Dr. Essad says.

Some everyday things you can do for brain health:

  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Try a new activity
  • Quit smoking immediately

Additionally, this manner of thinking about how the brain benefits from sensory/auditory input is influencing the way concussions on the field of play are treated.

“Guidelines for managing concussions say that athletes, especially student-athletes, should be encouraged to return within the first 48 hours,” Dr. Essad says. “As opposed to the past when concussions were managed by putting people in a dark room. The brain likes to learn about its environment and use all of its sensory integration. So, a concussion will recover faster if the brain is allowed to do that natural activity.”

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Looking for help? Find a doctor if you live in Illinois. Or find one if you live in Wisconsin.

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About the Author

Kevin McGraw
Kevin McGraw

Kevin is a Senior Writer, Content Specialist working in Public Affairs & Marketing at Advocate Health Care. In addition to health care, Kevin’s experience has covered a variety of B2B and B2C industries, including life sciences, finance, retail, food and beverage, and sports marketing. His outside interests include art, music, the outdoors – and hitting the links.