Smarter through sports

Smarter through sports

Healthy body, healthy mind. Motivation, strength and endurance are terms that apply perfectly to both spheres. Actually, regular workouts don’t just train the muscles, the organs and the heart, but also the brain by promoting focus and improving problem solving skills. Complex combination exercises in workouts or varied jogging routes (broken up with brainteasers or meditation, for example) are more demanding for the brain than bench presses and running alone. Free exercises may tend to entail a greater risk of injury than machine-based movement, but our brains learn more in practising them. Juggling and singing barefoot on your skateboard, or playing the violin while cycling backwards may sound mad but they are actually anything but insane.

In the end the increased brain capacity pays off so much that we can cleanly carry out exercises, better master complex sports or hold out for longer in endurance training sessions. Intelligent people who can suss out their own situation are also more capable of overcoming a slump in motivation. Not least, increasing self-esteem through sport enables thinking more clearly and making more rational decisions.

But, how do you get smarter when you can’t play violin or ride a skateboard?

Tips to get smarter with sport

Mental breaks

Let’s start with simple adjustments that you can make without fundamentally changing your workout. Similarly to how your muscles regenerate on training-free days, your brain needs stimulation followed by breaks to grow. If after a workout cycle or stage, you consciously go through previous exercises or the next exercise in your mind, the movement processes and physical exercises make a firmer imprint on your memory.

The more intense the experiences during a workout and the more detailed you picture these, the stronger your brain will react by improving existing synapses and building new ones. This process can be further improved by meditating after or even better during a workout.

Working out in the evening

Our brains intensively develop new impulses not just during breaks between workouts but especially at night. To embed what the body experienced during a workout as fully as possible in the brain, you need sleep. As described [link=3001]here[/link] we take thoughts to bed with us and into the land of dreams. The shorter the time between workouts and going to bed, the more intensive the natural processing of the exercises completed during a workout.

Combo exercises

What do deadlifts, balancing board workouts and yoga have in common? Correct: They all demand coordination of several movement and thought processes. Muscle contraction, coordination, timing and balance are equally required and trained. Naturally, the barbell is not necessarily the safest and healthiest way to begin this type of workout. It is better to start with a few squats on unstable ground without additional weights to avoid injury and get used to new strains - which professionals refer to as proprioceptive training.

But: combination exercises are more challenging for our brain than just exerting the chest or thigh muscles. To start you could also try jogging backwards, complicated step sequences or light dumbbell exercises on one leg. If you want to take psychological demand to the max, you can try juggling or playing violin too.

Supplements

First things first. Before you fire up your brain with brain food and nutritional supplements, you should check your fluid balance. The best supplementing loses its effectiveness if the body is not ‘fluid’ enough. Brains, muscles, the nervous system, the immune system and the digestive system - they all need enough water to efficiently process the nutrients you consume.

First you should keep an eye on your magnesium level. Firstly magnesium supports concentration and absorption capacity by countering fatigue and depression. Secondly, combined with zinc it is involved in cell division and therefore in growth processes in the brain and everywhere else. Of course, you also have to consume plenty of all of the important macronutrients.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the main energy source and provide you with energy to move and concentrate. Our brain cells work best with glucose. As glucose can cause blood sugar levels to spike and drop rapidly shortly after, causing fatigue, it is not suited to sports nutrition. In this case, long-chain carbohydrates in the form of [link=5067]oat flakes[/link] are better. These only give off the sugar they contain slowly, so you can concentrate for longer.

Proteins

It is not just the muscles that are made of protein - your brain is also full of it. Protein forms the basis for good memory. Scientists even talk about memory molecules. Just like your muscles, your brain needs protein to grow. The same applies to the transmission of stimuli - which also requires proteins.

To supply the brain with the right proteins, the composition of amino acids is decisive. Whey protein is a wholesome source of amino acids due to its high biological value and shouldn’t be left out of any smart sports lifestyle. We recommend vegans consume high quality plant-based proteins like rice or pea protein.

Fats

Unsaturated fats like Omega-3 fatty acids in particular play an important role in our brains’ performance. Fats are decisively involved in information transmission in the brain as a central component in our cell membranes. The more unsaturated fatty acids in the cell wall, the more permeable it will be for all kinds of nutrients. If you don’t like herring or mackerel, we recommend [link=8245]Brazil nuts[/link] or selective use of [link=7761]Omega-3 capsules[/link].

You can read more about nutritional supplements in [link=0002]this article[/link].

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