We all know that physical exercise is good for our bodies. There is now plenty of evidence that shows it’s good for our heads too.
Aerobic exercise allows for cognitive clarity. That's clear thinking to you and me.
Over the last 30 years, neuroscience research has been able to prove a point. That point being: there is a link between aerobic exercise and a healthy brain.
When you've been out for a run, new neurones get created in the hippocampus area of the brain. That's the bit responsible for learning and memory.
Exercise that makes you sweat for 30-40 minutes is enough for new brain cells to happen. And it happens for us all, young and old(er).
The British Medical Journal has reported that:
“Exercise is a promising strategy for combating cognitive decline by improving brain structure and function.”
This was after research showed exercise for older people improved their hippocampal volume. Or: brain power.
Running and other aerobic activity increases the blood flow to your frontal lobe. That's what research has shown. That’s good news because that aids planning ahead, clear thought and concentration.
I can think of loads of times where I've pulled on my trainers with a head full of problems. And then, by the time I get back home from the run, I’ll have answers for some of them and the others will have proper context.
It’s not only clear thinking that makes running good for your head. It must be something to do with the increased blood flow, because going for a run makes me feel better too.
There have been many times where I go out for a run feeling grotty and out of sorts. Even a short run has boosted my mood and made me feel better about life.
So, running (and aerobic exercise generally) is good for your head. There is proof that is works. Let's wait for the neuroscientists to figure out more. But meanwhile, I can confirm that it makes you feel better - I have the empirical evidence.
If you want to clear your mind or get clarity on a problem - go for a run, it works every time.