How Cardio and HIIT Can Improve Your Cognitive Abilities
Before sitting down to write any article, I make sure to take a trip to the gym. When the blood gets pumping and sweat is flowing, creativity flows too. Exercise boosts brain power, elevates energy and super charges productivity. Even just 30 minutes of cardio causes my brain to work at a maximum level of efficiency.
Exercise boosts brain power, elevates energy and super charges productivity.
Cardio Boosts Your Brainpower
Karen Asp From Active.com tells us the science behind this phenomena…
Cardio gets your heart racing and your brain flowing with blood and oxygen. Nutrients flood to cells and stimulate mental clarity, focus, memory and creativity.
When you choose to work out, you’re not only working out your heart, but your brain as well. Exercise increases your ability to learn and think more proactively, reduces stress levels and provides an increase in the production of serotonin (the happy chemical), and dopamine, which increases memory and improves your focus.
The more blood and glucose your brain cells get, the better they’ll perform. That means by exercising more often you’ll get better results. By incorporating more intense exercises that push your body to its limits, you’ll be healthier physically and mentally.
Every time you exercise your muscles, they transmit hormones to your brain. These transfuse with a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF aids in brain cell growth, mood regulation, and learning.
The Exercise-Induced Hormone, BDNF, is Brain Superfood
In a fascinating article on Active.com, Dr. John J. Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is quoted as saying, “BDNF is like a fertilizer for the brain.” The more BDNF the brain gets, the more efficient it will be. There’s no better way to increase the production of BDNF than by having an intense, sweat inducing routine.
The best thing is that only 30 minutes a day of exercise can increase the production of this hormone. We all love to save our time because of our busy schedules. It’s actually counterproductive to not workout for at least 30 minutes a day.
It’s counterproductive to NOT workout at least 30 minutes a day.
How Cardio Can Improve Your Mental Ability
If you want to be more productive and focused, then exercising is the best route to success. By increasing the blood flow to your brain, it mimics the effects of caffeine. It increases your heart rate, improves attention span and makes your memory more accurate. Many people like to pollute their bodies with stimulants and other drugs to increase cognitive abilities at work or with their own business. They take for granted the brain’s natural ability to enhance its own performance. The result is they’re actually causing damage to their own brain, instead of increasing its performance. Cardio even improves the structure of the brain, which will lead to the development of more brain cells.
You can find out more about how cardio improves your mental ability here.
Start Sweating, Stop Stressing
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT aids in increased blood flow to the brain. You can choose to do cardio or HIIT, whatever you feel is best, but I personally tend to do both. The more you sweat, the more you increase your mental health. When the body’s sweating and the heart’s racing, your stress levels decrease. It feels amazing. There’s no better feeling than the rush from natural chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and endorphin’s being released into your body after an intense workout. There’s no drug that can top it off. That natural feeling releases you of your stress, your anxiety and your worries. It’s very refreshing.
If you’re looking for the best HIIT workout routine, check out this article.
My Morning Routine
I start my morning off with a cup of coffee and at least 4 liters of water. It replenishes my body of all those nutrients it consumed over the night and wakes me up too! Once I’m ready, I head to the gym and hop on a bike or a treadmill to warm up. On cardio days I move into sprints for one minute and rest for ninety seconds, and I keep repeating this until reaching the 30 minute mark. Afterwards I’m feeling awake, alert and ready to take on life by the horns.
When I was just starting out, this kind of routine would have been too much to handle. Instead, if you’re a beginner, try doing a less strenuous exercise and gradually increase the intensity over time. I recommend trying this 30 minute, low-impact (yet highly effective) cardio routine that’s been provided by About.com. You can use any kind of cardio machine to do this workout.
Try replicating my system if the one shown in the picture above is too easy for you. I guarantee you’ll start to not only see, but feel the positive results.
There are also other, HIIT sprints you can do in less time. Tabata is really popular, where you can do 8 complete sprint sets in just 4 minutes.
Get an Edge Over Stressful Situations By Having an Intense Workout
Whenever I have something important to deal with, like a meeting or a test, incorporating 30 minutes of cardio into my routine is essential. Due to the increased alertness and memory benefits, I’m able to perform ten times better than usual and the results don’t lie. So if you’re a student that has an exam or a business person that has a boardroom meeting coming up, try doing an intense workout session beforehand and you too will experience the results!