Exercise and the Brain
Staying active as we age is important in so many different ways. Exercise can improve our strength, flexibility and balance, helping reduce the risk of a debilitating fall. Having stronger muscles makes us able to complete all sorts of daily tasks, whether it’s vacuuming the living room or just being able to get up easily out of your favorite chair. Exercising regularly can also improve our mood and our sleeping habits, and can even reduce the amount of stress we might be feeling.
However, did you know that experts have also said exercise can be one of the most beneficial and cost-effective ways to improve your brain health? Think of your brain as a muscle; just like other muscles in the body, the brain needs to get used often so it stays in shape and strong. While there are certain mental exercises you can do to improve your memory and slow cognitive impairment, studies also show a positive correlation between physical activity and the brain.
Improving Brain Health with Physical Activities
Any type of activity that gets your heart rate up and your blood flowing can have a positive effect on your brain health. When your heart rate is elevated, more oxygen gets pumped to your brain. Plus, when you exercise, a variety of hormones are released that can provide a nourishing environment for new cell growth in the brain.
In general, any type of physical activity that is good for your body is also good for your brain. However, activities like dancing, which requires both rhythm and coordination and therefore involves both mental and physical ability, are some of the best forms of exercise for the brain.
Just a few of the ways exercise can help improve your brain health include:
- Helps you focus on your goals: Starting a new exercise plan requires focus and determination to see results and meet your goals. However, as you begin to see results, you may develop an ability to follow through with other tasks, too – especially those that require long-term effort.
- Improves your memory and cognition: Your memory gets a good boost from exercise as blood flow is increased to the brain. Damaged brain cells can even get repaired from daily aerobic exercise! A recent study showed that after exercising, participants did about 15 percent better on memory and attention tasks.
- Elevates your mood: Researchers found that exercise can treat major depressive disorders almost as well as medications. Adding daily exercise into your life can bring antidepressant effects to those suffering from depression. Boost both your memory and your mood through physical activity!
- Reduces stress: Feeling anxious and stressed out? Head to the gym and work off those nerves. Exercise can help prepare you for both the normal stresses in your day and the way you react in tense situations.
Keep your body toned and your mind sharp by getting involved in a daily workout routine. Commit to making physical activity a habit, just like taking your vitamins and medications. You’ll notice the difference in your both your body and your brain!
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