We often focus on the impact of food and exercise on our appearance.
But did you know that workouts and good nutrition can actually boost your brainpower, helping you think better, stay sharper, and get more done?
If that sounds like good news, keep reading to uncover the science behind this healthy mind hack.
The Problem With Sedentary Lifestyles
We are much less active than even a generation ago, let alone 100 years ago.
Modern life makes it very easy to sit in one spot for too long, too often.
And our brains haven’t caught up with the lifestyle changes that impact our bodies.
The knock-on effects of poor lifestyle habits can be felt at work, in meetings, when we’re studying, and even when we’re trying to be better communicators.
An unhealthy lifestyle can leave us feeling sluggish and slow as our brain struggles to perform at its best.
The good news is that with a few simple changes, you will see big benefits in your mental clarity, productivity, and mood.
Exercise And The Brain
Imagine the scene: you have a morning of work calls, a report to produce, and a tight deadline.
You slept badly last night (something to do with your unhealthy dinner causing gut issues), you’re supremely stressed, and the brain fog is unreal.
Two flat whites and a croissant later and you feel no less tired – with an added stomach ache.
Now imagine how different that entire day would be if you were rested, fuelled with healthy food, and firing on all cylinders.
Regular exercise actually gives you more energy and helps you breeze through mid-afternoon energy slumps, staying focused and being creative for more hours of the day.
A healthy diet and good hydration give cells the energy and micronutrients they need to repair and regenerate.
Exercise feeds the brain with blood, oxygen, and glucose, effectively boosting your brain’s performance abilities.
The best news is that it doesn’t have to be a long or intense exercise.
Even a walk or 10 minutes of home-based exercises will have an effect.
The Best Exercise For Brain Power
Get outside for a 20-30 minute brisk walk before work or during the day and you’ll feel refreshed with extra mental energy to tackle your next tasks.
Studies show that a quick walk is particularly useful for creative thinkers, but I think it’s a fantastic option to help tackle stress, overwhelm, and foggy thinking. (1)
30 minutes of yoga during the day (or before work) is great for focusing the mind, calming your thoughts, and helping you order your mental to-do list.
If your role involves organisational performance, yoga might be the best choice. (2)
Lower Intensity Cardio
My go-to choice of exercise (high-intensity interval training) may not be the best choice for boosting brain power, especially if you are building your fitness.
Try lower intensity cardio like a spin on the indoor bike or some light weight lifting.
This will boost your brainpower without making you too tired for your next task.
Resistance training or weights is particularly good for brain focus and memory. (3)
If you’re about to go into a meeting or training session, get 20-30 minutes of strength work in beforehand.
Healthy Eating Tips For Better Brain Power
A healthy diet of mostly natural, whole foods will do wonders for your brain health and productivity.
Cruciferous veg and leafy greens (broccoli, cabbage, kale, pak choi, etc) are packed with important micronutrients for better brain health.
Eating more vegetables can help slow the decline in cognitive abilities that comes with ageing.
Berries have high levels of antioxidants which reduce inflammation in the body and contribute to brain health.
Healthy fats (omega 3 fatty acids) help protect the structure of the brain, provide fuel, and help hormone production. Choose oily fish (preferably wild), good quality olive oil, or take good omega 3 supplements.
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and micronutrients – try to eat a wide range of nuts rather than sticking to one or two.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and kefir are beneficial for gut health which has a big impact on mental clarity and brain function.
9 Reasons To Exercise And Eat Well (That Are Nothing To Do With Losing Weight!)
1.) Improve blood, glucose, and oxygen to the brain (4)
2.) More mental clarity and focus
3.) Boost hormones that support cognitive health including dopamine and epinephrine
4.) Help with managing stress and pressure
5.) Increased energy capacity
6.) Better brain function in the hippocampus (responsible for memory) (5)
7.) Improved creativity and problem-solving
8.) Increased mood and a more positive outlook
9.) Better sleep, leading to a more rested state each day
A growing number of big companies are prioritising employee health and wellbeing, with a big focus on physical activity and healthy eating. (6)
Follow their lead in your own home office or working from home situation.
Get up and move at least once a day, get outside for a walk during daylight hours, and make an effort to plan healthy meals and snacks.
Your brain will thank you!
Until next week, stay happy and healthy!
‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’
References used in today’s blog: