Week 6 – “Brainstrong” by Anders Hansen

If you have come this far with my blog you know that working out helps your brain to manage stress, betters your memory, challenges your creativity and so much more. Andreas Hansen, a doctor of psychiatry, and author of the book teaches us about the positive effects that exercise has on the brain.

This blog post is only a reminder for how exercise can benefit us athletes. So, let’s talk about my favorite benefits: we become more alert and energized when we are moving our bodies. Have you ever felt like you have more energy after a workout/practice than before? Indeed, and that is because the body movement increases the concentration ability, your memory, creativity and it even levels out the stress activity within your body.

Most of us know these simple benefits, yet one topic that I found particularly interesting in this book was, “how you test your concentration.” Knowing that there is a correlation between concentration and conditioning made me think of a question, how active do we have to be to see results? The answer is three times a week for at least 30-45 mins.

Besides, the fact that physical activity can increase concentration only supports that playing brain games while keeping the heart rate up can improve the concentration. However, playing a mental movie in your head of how you want to perform during practice while sitting on the bike, or jogging up and down the court for warm-up, can help your brain to stay alert which will improve your performance in practice.

Now let’s leave the surface level information aside and get into the truly interesting topic in this book. This next segment caught my attention, where Hansen explained how the hippocampus (the memory centrum) can be affected by exercise. One thing you need to know about this topic is that the hippocampus is the memory headquarter in the brain.

Besides, it’s human nature that the hippocampus shrinks 1% per year after the age of 30. By not taking care of the body, and not giving it the right nutrients one can speed up the shrinkage of the hippocampus. However, Hansen explains how we can prevent the shrinkage from happening. He stresses that by exercising we can build new brain cells and that way increases the effectivity of our memory.

I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of science I like to read about. Besides, the book was pretty much general knowledge and build on research that we are pretty familiar with so there was nothing extraordinary new about it. For example, in one segment, Hansen talked about the components that make you feel good and that every single person needs: norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. He stressed that the level of these components increases during exercise, but a lot more after the performed exercise (15-60 mins after). Explained how they all worked together and benefit the athlete.

Until next week, think about what kind of lifestyle you want to live and if you are only thinking about living it or if you’re doing everything you can to live it through.

One Comment Add yours

  1. maylynno says:

    You know I am a fan of your blog because I workout and I love the psychology behind sports..

    That being said, I realise that people lose concentration when the heart rate goes up. I was one of those and it is only by training consistently that I made some efforts on concentration despite the sweat and the huffing and puffing.


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