Skipping Exercise Quickly Reduces Benefits to the Brain

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By Antara Sinha

As college students, we’re not exactly great at sticking to a routine. Our sleep schedules can fluctuate wildly depending on exams and due dates. What and when we eat varies, based on when we last made it to the grocery store. Our exercise routine is usually a toss-up, depending on what time we scramble out of bed in the morning or how much energy we have by the evening.

Obviously this isn’t great news for our health. However, the importance of routine is once again stressed by a New York Times report that shows how skipping exercise for as little as 10 days is enough to diminish the benefits of working out on your brain.

Basically, regular exercise allows for greater efficiency in transporting oxygen and fuel to your brain by blood flow – a good thing. The benefits of exercise don’t disappear right away either. According to the Times, “Exercise is particularly important for brain health because it appears to ramp up blood flow through the skull not only during the actual activity, but throughout the rest of the day.”

However, after tracking normally active individuals after 10 days of living a sedentary routine, the results showed that much less blood flowed to the brain, especially the hippocampus.

While the study did not show any decrease in cognition function after the enforced break from exercise, it did show the importance of living a regularly active lifestyle to reap all of the benefits of exercise on brain health.

While taking the occasional break during a stressful midterm exam week is absolutely fine, maybe think twice if you find yourself hitting that snooze button on the regular before a scheduled morning run.

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