Did you know exercise is as good for your brain as it is for your body?
Regular exercise has been proven to keep you strong, toned, and help you lose weight. But with every weight you lift or lap you run, you are improving your cognitive fitness as well. Your body and mind are connected and both need activity to function properly.
Physical activity benefits the brain by: promoting cardiovascular health, improving blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation and lowering levels of stress hormones. There is also evidence suggesting physical fitness can increase the thickness of the cerebral cortex, promotes your brain’s ability to form new neural connections and adapt throughout life, especially in the hippocampus which is important for memory.
According to a study by the American Academy of Neurology, older participants who moved more scored better on memory and thinking tests and every increase in movement was associated with a 31% lower risk of dementia. Aim for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week of aerobic activity to boost brain benefits.
Mental exercise also plays a significant role in protecting your brain. Just as much as your body needs a workout your brain benefits from mentally stimulating activities to build cognitive function. The more new things we learn the more connections are created between brain cells and brain areas. And the more connections there are the better your brain functions. Try new hobbies, read a book, or learn a new skill that stimulates your brain and keeps it active.
Doctors encourage social engagement to challenge your mind by interpreting verbal and visual cues and responding. Social and intellectual conversations can bolster brain function by improving your mood and warding off depression which negatively affects cognition. While this last year has been hard to avoid isolation, your brain craves interaction. Stay socially engaged with your tribe or volunteer to find a new community to help keep your brain sharp and aware.
Preserve your cognitive health, improve your thinking and memory by working out your body and your brain through physical activity, and mentally and socially stimulating exercise.
Want more strategies to help you get the most out of life – and feel great while doing it?