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Exercise Can Help You Stay Focused — an article on the Smart Living Network
April 24, 2008 at 6:57 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Exercise Can Help You Stay Focused

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We all know exercise can help us lose weight, feel better and even prevent disease. But the idea that exercise can help us stay focused is a new concept that we can add to our list of reasons to exercise.

Why Exercise?

People exercise for any number of reasons. Some want to lose weight, others just crave physical activity. Exercise can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even boost confidence and self-esteem. Plus, it's a great social activity; the gym is a terrific place to meet people, and working out with a friend is motivating for both people. The feeling we have when we"ve completed a workout, that feeling where you feel you can take on the world, is also inspiring.

Exercise Boosts The Mood

Regular physical activity has been shown over and over to improve our mood by producing serotonins in the brain. Exercise helps us feel alive, alert and confident; it also reduces stress and for many people can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Often we feel powerful while we exercise, and are rewarded after a workout with feelings of contentment and happiness. Be careful though, excess exercise can make us feel too fatigued.

Exercise Can Help You Stay Focused?

It's true. New research has been showing over and over that exercise is just as good, if not better, for the brain as it is for the body. Exercise has been linked to the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as the maintenance of general cognitive function as we age.

American Psychological Association

A study by the American Psychological Association, APA, tracked the benefits of three different types of exercise among elderly participants. The first looked at the effect of exercise on older people's brain functions, and showed that even if we begin exercising later in life we may still be able to lower our risk of dementia. (Don't use this as an excuse to avoid exercising!) The second type of study followed the type of relationship and its effects on cognitive function. This study showed that increasing the intensity of physical activity also increased the cognitive benefits especially in areas of the brain that involve focus and attention. The third group showed that physical activity slows the aging of the brain, as we ourselves age. Exercise seems to help the brain take better care of itself as it ages.

Exercise For Younger People

While many studies on exercise have focused on the elderly, a recent study followed 241 people whose ages ranged from 15 to 71. After compensating for specific factors, the study found a direct relationship between the level of physical activity and improved cognitive function and focus. It reported that regular exercise increased participant's ability to multi-task, focus on tasks in a visually confusing environment and even tune out environmental distractions. All the research aside, exercise is just plain good for us. There's no reason to avoid it. Remember, physical activity can be fun and doesn't necessarily involve long hours at the gym. Start be taking a walk a few times a week, go sledding or run with the dog. In time, you'll increase your fitness level and begin to branch out into new areas of exercise.

Sources: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061219122200.htm

http://www.webmd.com/news/20060811/exercise-keeps-brain-fit

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/health-fitness-fact-vs-fiction

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