The Link Between Exercise and Brain Health
The relationship between physical activity and mental health
It is no secret that exercising is beneficial to your health. What you may not realize is that exercise is also beneficial to your brain. Indeed, studies have shown that regular exercise can protect your brain from age-related deterioration and increase cognitive performance in seniors. It can also aid in the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If that isn’t enough, exercise can improve your mood and energy levels while increasing your attention and concentration. So, if you want to maintain your brain healthy, go no further than exercise!
But which activity is better for improving brain health? That depends on your objectives. If you want to avoid dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, any aerobic activity (walking, riding, swimming, etc.) will be useful. Physical activity has also been demonstrated to reduce the progression of certain degenerative disorders. One explanation for this is that exercise decreases blood pressure, which can cause brain damage when elevated. Exercise causes the blood to flow more freely through your arteries, increasing blood flow to the brain and giving it the oxygen and nourishment it requires.
While physical activity may be enjoyable and beneficial to both the mind and the body, not everyone likes running, swimming, or cycling. In such a scenario, yoga is something to think about. Yoga is well-known for its stress-relieving and flexibility benefits, but it can also improve your brain health. Yoga’s relaxing, grounding effects may do wonders for your mental health.
When practicing yoga, you must concentrate on the movements and positions, which are done slowly and deliberately. Yoga also entails learning a new method of breathing, which is important to brain health. The advantages of yoga on the brain have been well-documented in scientific studies, and the results are virtually instantaneous. After just a few weeks of consistent practice, yoga may enhance your general sense of well-being, improve your quality of life, and reduce anxiety, sadness, and stress.
Yoga has also been beneficial for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. People with Alzheimer’s who practiced Kundalini yoga for eight weeks exhibited substantial gains in measures of cognitive function, mood, and sleep quality in one small research.
Of course, you don’t have to have a chronic illness to benefit from yoga’s brain-boosting effects. Yoga may assist everyone, from stressed-out college students to busy working professionals, and enhance their attention and concentration. This is because you can practically train your brain by concentrating and staying concentrated while performing yoga positions and managing your breathing. Consider attempting yoga if you want to improve your brainpower. Yoga is an excellent technique for boosting cognitive performance due to its mix of deep breathing, physical exertion, and mental focus. Not to mention, it’s a terrific way to unwind and de-stress after a hard day.
Although the primary goal of Pilates is to strengthen the core, the attention and focus necessary to do the stretches benefits both physical and mental health. Another important aspect of Pilates is posture, and having excellent posture allows you to breathe effectively. What does this have to do with brain health, you may wonder? When you can breathe properly and fill your lungs with plenty of air, the body, particularly the brain, receives the oxygen it requires to function effectively. Women who practiced Pilates for six weeks reported decreased anxiety and despair. They also observed that their sleep had improved; thus, they were less weary during the day. These considerations and the physical benefits contributed to their overall increased quality of life.
Improve your memory with regular exercise
Memories play a crucial role in our lives. They influence who we are and how we perceive the world. Our memory also aids us in learning and development. That is why it is critical to maintaining our memories as we age. Regular exercise is one of the most effective methods to do this. Exercise can help memory and cognitive abilities in a variety of ways. Physical activity causes the release of growth factors. Growth factors are substances that the brain produces. They influence the health of brain cells, the formation of new blood arteries in the brain, and even the survival of new brain cells, all of which aid in memory consolidation. Consolidating memories is vital because it converts short-term memory into long-term memory, cementing it in our brains.
The advantages of exercise do not end there. Exercise has also been demonstrated to lower stress and anxiety, both of which can impair memory. When we are stressed, our bodies produce cortisol, a hormone that has been linked to memory loss, when levels are elevated for an extended period of time. Exercise can help lower chronic cortisol levels, which are produced by worry and stress, and hence improve our memory.
How much exercise do you need to see the benefits?
You do not need to run for miles or lift weights for hours on end to see results. Even modest exercise has been shown to improve brain function and memory. In reality, only 150 minutes of exercise each week, or half an hour per day with two days off, is required to notice results. You must raise your heart rate and sweat somewhat and yet be able to communicate while performing that workout.
You may take several workouts to safeguard your brain’s health. You’re doing something good for your mind and body as long as you raise your heart rate and break a sweat. It’s simpler than you think to include fitness into your everyday routine. Begin by including a brisk walk into your day or by taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Here are some workouts you might try:
Walking: Walking is one of the simplest and most effective activities you can undertake. It requires no specific equipment or training and may be done anywhere, at any time. Simply put on some comfy sneakers and go exercising! Aim for 30 minutes of daily walking or 10,000 steps.
Swimming: Swimming is another excellent kind of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise that does not place undue pressure on your body. It’s also low-impact, making it gentle on your joints, and it can be a lot of fun. Most recreational centers offer introductory lessons if you don’t know how to swim.
Cycling: Cycling is another excellent technique to raise your heart rate without placing undue pressure on your body. It’s also a fun pastime you may do with your friends or family. If you don’t already have a bike, you can usually rent one from a local bike store, utilize a bike-sharing program, or borrow one from a friend.
Playing team games: Gather the family and engage in some physical activities. Cricket, rounders, football, or tennis are all possibilities. You will not only get healthier and enhance your mental health, but you will also have fun spending time with your family and friends. Furthermore, when you’re having fun, you’re probably laughing, which is another aspect that enhances mental health and happiness and even helps you live longer.
Dancing is another excellent technique to raise your heart rate while having fun. You may do it alone, with pals, in class, or at your favorite nightclub. You will be exercising without even realizing it while you dance. Take it lightly; have some fun, and dance like no one is looking!
Any exercise that gets you moving and raises your heart rate will suffice if you want to increase your mood, mental health, cognitive capacity, and energy levels. Exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your brain at any age!
- Physical exercise and activity may be important in reducing dementia risk at any age https://n.neurology.org/content/92/8/362
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- The Effects of an 8-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Executive Function in Older Adults https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202261/
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- Benefits of Yoga in Sports –A Study https://www.kheljournal.com/archives/2015/vol1issue3/PartA/29.1.pdf
- Effect of Different Head-Neck Postures on the Respiratory Function in Healthy Males https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6077663/
- A six-week Pilates exercise protocol for improving physical and mental health-related parameters http://dspace.unimap.edu.my/bitstream/handle/123456789/54979/A%20six-week%20pilates%20exercise%20protocol%20for%20improving%20physical%20and%20mental%20health-related%20parameters.pdf?sequence=1
- Acute and Chronic Exercise Effects on Human Memory: What We Know and Where to Go from Here https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/10/21/4812/htm
- Memory Consolidation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4526749/
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- Laughter is the Best Medicine https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm