Most people know how great physical exercise is for the body, but do you know how beneficial physical exercise can be to reduce stress and boost brain health? Research indicates that exercise can help boost the brain’s ability to learn and retain new facts and skills, as well as, decrease the risk of dementia. Use the nine strategies below to start reaping the brain-boosting benefits of exercise and reduce stress today!
Hit the Road. A new study has found that older adults who take more steps by walking or jogging perform better on memory tasks than those who are less active.
Build Up Your Cortex. Regular aerobic exercise increases the thickness of the brain’s cortex—the outer layer of the brain that shrinks with Alzheimer’s disease. Benefits from exercise were seen in healthy older adults and those diagnosed with mild mental loss.
Leg Power. Greater leg strength has been shown to be a high predictor of brain health
related to thinking, learning, and memory. Build leg muscles with some squats, lunges, and step-ups.
Never Too Late to Start. Benefits from exercise can begin at any age! If you’ve been inactive, start with 10 minutes of exercise and gradually work up to 30 minutes.
Step up Your Game. Challenging movements like standing on one leg while doing a bicep curl encourages brain cells to learn new skills and will keep your mind sharp.
Reduce Stress and Pain. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins: brain chemicals, which transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. Endorphins help you sleep better, ease muscle tension and promote feelings of well-being.
Grow Brain Cells. Exercise encourages blood flow throughout the body and triggers the release of a protein responsible for growing brain cells. It also activates the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus–the area in the brain that controls memory, learning, and overall mental function.
Do what You Love. Choose activities that you enjoy such as walking, dancing, Tai Chi, or biking. Strengthen muscles by training them a few times a week to improve muscle tone, range of motion, and flexibility while boosting blood flow to the brain.
Stay Physically Active. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like walking, jogging, biking, or swimming) a week, but realize that any physical activity can benefit your brain.