You should think of your brain as a muscle. Like other muscles in your body, the brain needs to get used often so it stays strong and limber. There are a number of brain exercises you can do to improve your memory and slow cognitive impairment, but did you know that physical exercise can also have a positive impact on the brain?
A number of studies have been conducted showing the positive correlation between exercise and brain health. Since memory decline is one of the major concerns of most aging adults, it’s important to pay attention to these findings.
Exercise and Brain Health
Experts have said that physical exercise may be one of the most cost-effective and beneficial ways aging adults can boost their memory performance. Exercise increases heart rate, which leads to more oxygen being pumped to the brain. It also helps release a variety of hormones that can provide a nourishing environment to promote the growth of new brain cells.
In general, any type of exercise that is good for your heart is good for your brain. Running, for instance, gives an antidepressant-like effect known as a “runner’s high,” which has been associated with new cell growth in the hippocampus, the key region of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the best physical exercise for the brain involves activities that integrate both physical and mental aspects, like dancing. Dancing requires rhythm and coordination, along with memory for getting the steps in the right order.
Positive Effects of Physical Exercise for the Brain
Exercise not only keeps your body toned, but keeps your mind sharp and active, too. Here are just a few ways exercise and brain health go hand in hand:
- Memory improvement: Since exercise increases blood flow to the brain, your memory gets a good boost. A recent study showed that after exercising, participants did about 15 percent better on memory and attention tasks. Aerobic exercise can even repair damaged brain cells!
- Reducing stress: Exercise can help prepare you for the normal stresses in your day and help you react better in tense situations. When you’re feeling anxious and stressed out, get to the gym and work off those nerves.
- Alleviating depression: Exercising not only can boost your memory, but it can boost your mood, too. 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.
- Staying focused on your goals: When you start an exercise plan, it requires focus and determination to see results. Once you see results, you may develop an ability to follow through with other tasks, too – especially those that require long-term effort.
Get started with an exercise routine as soon as possible to see the benefits on your body and your brain. You’ll feel better physically and mentally, and can start to reduce the concerns you have about memory loss and decreased cognitive function.