3 Ways Exercise Protects Your Mind
You probably already know that exercise is a great way to remain physically strong & healthy throughout your life. But did you know it’s also crucial for your memory & brain health?
Regardless of age, we all need to protect our brains. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 66 seconds someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s disease. Deaths from the disease have increased by 89% since 2000 and it’s now the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
The good news is that recent research indicates there are a variety of ways we can reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In addition to a healthful lifestyle that includes good nutrition, social interaction, and plenty of sleep, physical activity has been shown to change the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.
Based on the most current research, we’ve put together the top three ways you can use exercise to keep your brain healthy.
1. Get Your Cardio!
Don’t skip your cardio workouts! According to one researcher, aerobic exercise leads to remarkable changes in the brain, even over a short period of time. Cardio directly benefits brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain.
Anything good for the heart, we’re learning, is also good for the brain. So, lace up your sneakers and go for a run or a walk.
2. Build Muscle!
Though most research has focused on aerobic exercise, one study found that strength training can also help preserve cognitive functioning in older adults, and may actually help improve it.
Plus, learning new things stimulates the brain and helps it make new neural connections. The greater the novelty and challenge, the greater the benefit. So, rather than resorting to your same old, boring routine, use strength training as an opportunity to learn new exercises and use new equipment. Seek out exercises that will challenge not only your strength but also your coordination and balance. You’ll be doing both your brain and your body a favor.
3. Work Out with Friends!
Friends are good for your brain! Social interaction is believed to stimulate the formation of brain synapses and increase the formation of nerve cells in the brain.
You’ll get more benefit from joining an exercise group or class than you would from exercising solo. Not only is it more fun & motivating to work out with others, you have the opportunity to make new friends and strengthen your social network.
Just Do It!
Of course, physical activity is not a cure-all that will entirely eliminate your risk for Alzheimer's disease or dementia. But, staying physically fit may slow down cognitive decline.
The strongest research points to the fact that people who take preventive measures during their youth are the most protected against cognitive decline. So, no matter your age now is the time to take steps to protect your brain health.