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Brain Over Body or Body Over Brain? Your Brain Versus the World Pt 4

Last week our CEO and founder Tak wrote a blog about how exercise makes you smart. [Review] Why you need to do excise to be smart ;-) ( Clarissa, a giftmaker also wrote the importance of moving for mental health. [Book] The Body Keeps the Score ( As someone who studied Neuroscience (and also dances), I cannot help but hop into the hype train.

Hi all, Fabian from the Think-team here bringing in some Neuroscience into the discussion to continue my series of "Your Brain Versus the World". I think I speak for most of us when I say we really use a lot of our brains during the week. But, how much do we actually use our body? In fact, was the brain even made for thinking or moving?

Well if you ask Daniel Wolper, he'll answer the latter without hesitation. He'll go as far as to say that the only reason our brains exist is so that we can move in an adaptable manner. Think about it this way, to fulfill the most basic human needs (e.g. eating, drinking) you need to move. Something like pouring milk to a bowl seems like a "no brainer" task for us humans. But the motor cortex has really evolved magnificently to conduct such complex activities with grace. If you are into the elusiveness of the motor cortex, the future of robotics, or Bayesian statistics, I highly recommend watching this ted-talk.

Alright but back to the point of the blog. If you're not interested in all that geeky stuff and just want to know how and why exercise is good for the brain, then I have another Ted-talk to recommend. Instead, you can watch Wendy Suzuki's talk below. In short, she claims that exercise can give you better mood, better energy, better memory, and better attention. Wow! I highly recommend watching her because her breakdown is digestible and very entertaining (especially for research folks). She claims that her grant-writing for once, went well because of exercise. Maybe this is why we got some grants, because Tak was surfing and I was dancing.

To summarize, there are short-term and long-term effects of exercise on the brain. In the short term, exercise improves your mood, focus, and reaction time for up to two hours. This means that, say going for a jog in the morning before work, will make you extra productive!

In the long term, exercise can increase the volume of the hippocampus which is involved in creating long-term memory, and the pre-frontal cortex, which does too much stuff to mention here. These regions are one of the few ones that are prone to neuroplasticity, the fancy of saying, they can become bigger. They are also the regions where neurodegenerative diseases attack. Gasp! This is why it becomes such a revelation to know that you can protect them by exercising.

Imagine it this way, you were probably told at least once to strengthen your immune system to be resistant to diseases. Think of exercising also to strengthen your brain to protect it from neurodegenerative diseases. Parkinson's, dementia, Alzheimer's are all diseases that affect the brain with mostly unexplainable causes. Exercising may be a way to strengthen yourself from all types of diseases!

There you have it! No excuses now, exercise does your body (and brain) good. I know it's super difficult to organize a workout/exercise session to an impossibly busy work schedule. But consider exercises to be a break (counterintuitively, I know). Muhammad Ali probably wouldn't be able to win those rounds without those few-minute breaks. Every minute counts!

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

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