What's better than double-dipping, getting two benefits from a single task or activity?
So here's one activity that will not only help protect your brain from stress, but also make you smarter and healthier.
First some background. Stress negatively impacts your performance in a number of ways, especially where learning and memory are concerned. Chronic stress can damage the function of your hippocampus, weakening the synapses between brain cells, which makes it harder for you to remember new information (or old information, for that matter.)
What is one thing that reverses the effect of stress on your hippocampus?
(You probably saw that coming.)
As Dr. Jeffrey Edwards, one of the authors of the study, says, "The ideal situation for improving learning and memory would be to experience no stress and to exercise. Of course, we can't always control stress in our lives, but we can control how much we exercise. It's empowering to know that we can combat the negative impacts of stress on our brains just by getting out and running."
Of course exercise has other benefits. Even if you're not stressed, exercising at moderate intensity for twenty minutes elevates your mood for up to 12 hours -- and also increases the production of a protein that supports the function, growth, and survival of brain cells.
So while it would be great if you could perform difficult tasks in a low stress, highly supportive environment... most of us don't have that luxury.
But we can all exercise. (Here's a great place to start.) Not only will exercising make you healthier, it will also make you smarter -- and happier.
And it will make you feel younger, too.
So start quadruple-dipping. Now.