Growing up, my folks were all about my studies! My dad was a doctor and it was their dream that I would one day follow in his wise footsteps.
To make sure my brain was developing optimally, they ensured I was taking horrible tasting liquid vitamin drops every morning, they made sure I was eating my vegetables, they made sure I was hitting the books, my dad tried to teach me some of his chess genius and ahem, yes, there was the occasional Super Nintendo bribe too! =P
Fast forward to the present day, they achieved their goal and now I find myself being asked what can help improve IQ and brain function from new parents as well as families of loved ones whose memories may be failing them due to dementia.
Most people have a rough idea what to do, eat healthy, get enough sleep, read, study, practice problem solving puzzles such as chess and mahjong but there is one thing, a vital element, that no one, not even my parents ever really emphasised!
And that’s exercise!
Back in the day, weight training and bodybuilding was always seen as the pastime of Neanderthals, vain airheads, the next action hero like Schwarzenegger rather than the next Einstein or academic genius, but in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth!
The research is clear, whether aerobic cardio training or resistance weight training, they all serve to improve cognitive abilities, they can actually increase your IQ points and can even help to slow the progression of dementia!
Exercise increases blood, oxygen and nutrient delivery not just to your muscles but also to your brain, providing vital energy for metabolic functions, stimulating the growth of neurons and releasing hormones, serving to improve overall cognitive function!
If you have a loved one with vascular dementia, small micro-blockages in the brain leading to memory impairment and cognitive decline, it makes clear sense that exercise, which can help get your heart beating faster and pump more oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the brain, will help to improve brain health, concentration, memory and overall cognition (please check with your doctor first to make sure there are no contraindications for your specific case)!
Beyond IQ and memory, exercise boosts other aspects of brain function that are often neglected, I’m of course talking about your mental health!
Exercise can help relieve stress, anxiety and depression! There’s a reason people say the only workout you will ever regret is the one you didn’t do (unless it’s cardio, I hate cardio haha)!
So, the next time you worry your granny isn’t quite the person they used to be or you want to find ways to boost your mental performance, put the chess and mahjong pieces down and go for a leisurely walk, pick up some weights, get that blood pumping, flush away the proverbial cobwebs from the recesses of that amazing mind and unlock more of your unrealised potential!
As the saying goes, healthy mind – healthy body!
If you do the opposite, your results will be the opposite! If you never exercise, you never move, you never pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking, your metabolism will suffer, your body will become deficient of essential nutrients, blockages and ischaemia will settle in impairing blood flow to your brain and other vital organs and not only will your brain function suffer but so will the rest of your body!
Who knows, perhaps if Einstein did lift, maybe he could have solved the eternal paradox of time travel and how to prevent the machines from getting John Connor once and for all!
Workout smarter and be smarter friends!
Dr. Bobby Stryker