Why Jogging Your Brain Isn’t Just a Saying

Birgit Bauer
Written by
Birgit Bauer

The Roman poet Juvenal (55-135 B.C.) already zeroed in on the message: “Mens sana in corpore sano,” which translates into the famous quote “A sound mind in a healthy body.”

The interpretation is familiar: maintain good physical health to keep your brain fit.

Many of us already know this, but do we actually heed this advice? In our busy lives, who really has time to exercise? Let’s talk about why it really matters.

Physical activity stimulates the metabolism, reduces and maintains a healthy weight, trains the cardiovascular system and keeps us fit for all of life’s challenges. But there’s more…

New research shows that exercising the brain not only involves thinking, but movement as well.

The physically fit aren’t just building muscle when they workout, they’re giving their brain a workout too! It is the nerve center that monitors all processes, helps us be cognizant and much more. And we can’t just rely on brainteasers, our gray cells also require physical training. Regular exercise increases the blood circulation of the brain and heightens mental capacity.

Physical activity also enhances skills such as perception, coordination, memory, concentration, decision making, planning and even the ability to learn. Many types of exercise such as soccer have rules players need to know and be able to implement; coordination and concentration are just as important as physical fitness.

The latest research shows that being physically active can make it easier to perform difficult thought processes and helps to simplify decision making processes, making it easier for us to complete tasks.

And for those of you feeling down, remember that regular exercise also has a positive effect on mental state. Anger and frustration can be reduced with training, thereby improving quality of life helping us feel more lively, and act more confidently.

Exercise not only promotes physical fitness, but it encourages patients to be more social, stimulating the use of their cognitive skills. Moreover, doctors have determined that regular exercise helps remedy mild fatigue and can improve the patient’s ability to perform. Obviously, not every type of exercise is suitable for everyone. Talk to your doctor or a physiotherapist to help you find a type of exercise that works well with possible handicaps or restrictions. A “trial training” is a good opportunity to help you find your preferred physical activity. It is important not to attempt a performance-related training, but to improve endurance and stamina gradually. Avoid stress, overexertion and competitiveness in favor of having fun.

Here are some types of exercise that might just work for you and your MS:

Swimming – less stressful on joints but still offers up a quality workout. Many people with MS are able to perform motion sequences in the water they are having trouble with on land. Water is not only beneficial for the body; sometimes, you may simply want to let yourself float.

Yoga – relaxing and can help to relieve muscle tension. The regular breathing taught in yoga trains the airways and improves circulation.

Cycling – in addition to endurance and muscle training, this activity helps improve balance and reaction time. Those who are insecure may opt to use a tricycle.

Nordic Walking – individuals who enjoy the outdoors can take a brisk walk using two poles. This sport is not only endurance training, but it is good for the soul and offers a sense of safety and support with poles that serve as “a second set of legs.”

In other words, exercise can be good for the body, the mind, the soul. Why not give it a try?

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