How to Increase Oxygen to Your Brain With Exercise

Your brain requires oxygen to function, and oxygen reaches your brain via blood. Regular exercise may increase your supply of "tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain responsible for thought," notes the Harvard Medical School, and the Franklin Institute adds that walking "increases blood circulation and the oxygen and glucose that reach your brain." Walking provides a more effective means of oxygenating your brain than strenuous exercise. In strenuous exercise, your muscles require more oxygen and glucose, so less is available to the brain. However, physical activity in general improves blood flow to the brain.

Walking with friends helps oxygenate your brain and keep exercise commitments. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Step 1

Schedule a daily time to take a walk. Many people intend to exercise more, but don't get around to it. Listing your exercise commitment on a calendar or planner helps you to get in the habit of making time to exercise.

Step 2

Warm up for your walk by walking in place or walking slowly to increase the blood flow to your brain and muscles. Warming up helps to prepare your body for exercise and reduces your risk of injury.

Step 3

Walk at a moderate pace. If you've been sedentary, start your exercise program with strolls. Slow down if you begin breathing hard. Your body transports oxygen most efficiently when you are working with your flow of air, at a pace that allows you to talk comfortably without gasping. If you're fit, take a brisk walk.

Step 4

Increase the length of your walks to improve the efficiency of the flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body. A moderate to brisk walk increases your cardiovascular efficiency, lung capacity and circulation. The oxygen-rich blood pumping through your body during your walk increases the oxygen supply to your brain. The more you exercise, the more efficient your body becomes at oxygenating your brain.

Step 5

Practice yoga and other gentle exercise that help to deepen your breathing, such as tai chi or qi gong. Practicing regularly improves your flexibility, balance and oxygen intake. Perform these exercises early in your day to limber up and improve concentration, and before bed to promote relaxation and restful sleep.

Tip

Include 20 to 30 minutes a day of yoga or other exercise to increase oxygen to your brain and reduce stress, suggests the University of Illinois Wellness Center. Invest in a supportive, comfortable pair of walking shoes that fit you well. Walk in the fresh air whenever possible. Natural environments with trees and plants provide cleaner air than areas full of vehicle exhaust.

Warning

Consult with your doctor about any medical concerns, and before starting an exercise program if you're out of shape, obese, over 35 or have a family history of heart attack or stroke. Among other negative health consequences, cigarette smoking increases your risk of stroke and "reduces the amount of oxygen your blood carries to your brain," notes Womenshealth.gov.

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