Studies show mindful exercise can help to boost brain power!
Besides looking good and keeping trim, exercise has been proven time and time again to actually make you feel better as well. Not only because when you look great you feel great but also because of complex neurological processes that improve through physical activity. Meaning exercise can actually make you smarter!
A study carried out at the University of Illinois found that mindful exercise such as Pilates or Yoga boosted the brainpower of its subjects. This was confirmed by an experiment conducted by Yanshan University in Quinhuangdao, China. They took a sample of 5 students and followed them for 10 weeks as they began a course of Pilates. It was found that their Alpha Peak Power actually increased throughout the 10 week study. Alpha power is a measure of the brain wave frequency mostly related to the hippocampus portion of the brain an area responsible for memory and learning. Alpha peak power has been linked to improvements in the neural network, memory and cognitive functions.
Pilates is all about centring and control. Learning to use breathing to slow down internal processes and clear the mind so you are fully aware of all movements of the body. Focusing on deep breathing activities allows lots of oxygen rich blood to flood the brain increasing the release of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, hormones that improve mood and creativity.
Have you ever done a workout in your lunch hour and returned to work full of ideas and productivity? Studies have shown that by switching of your internal monologue and concentrating on a workout the brain can focus on neurogenesis, the natural process of creating new brain cells.
As with anything though it’s important to continually mix up your routine and add new exercises to keep the body guessing. The brain will only to continue to function if it is tested; it’s all to easy to slip into workout you could do with your eyes closed and have that internal monologue creep into your psyche. Mindfulness relies on your full attention!
Finally, Pilates helps to improve sleep and reduce stress. If you’re well rested and calm there is no end to your capabilities!