When you run, walk, lift weights, do Pilates, or do any type of exercise, your muscles contract. The action of contraction causes the muscles to release myokines. Those molecules then go all over your body and tell your organs to essentially go into gear and do their job. Some types of myokines can cross the blood-brain barrier and even go directly to your brain. What do these molecules do once they’re in your noodles?
“Several myokines (irisin, hydroxybutyrate, etc.) have been shown to stimulate neuronal function and facilitate synapses, which is how neurons communicate with each other,” says Lourenco. Specifically, they travel to brain regions responsible for regulating mood and facilitating learning and memory. They then perform a host of brain-stimulating activities, including helping your brain form new neurons, making new ones (and strengthening existing connections), and boosting your executive function, memory, and mood. All pretty important things that contribute to making you the thinking machine that you are.
Lourenco says that any exercise that involves muscle contraction should have these effects, and that there is no right or wrong way to increase your brain power through your body. “Any kind of regular exercise is good, as long as it’s regular and recommended for a given person,” says Lourenco.
As a fitness author Casey Johnston noted on Twitter When you hear the research findings, there is often a perceived chasm between people who exercise their brains and those who exercise their bodies. But this research and our deeper understanding of myokines shows that they are both the same thing. It is the definition of win-win.
This strength and mobility workout is the perfect way to activate your muscles (and myokines):