If you only do one thing to keep your brain healthy, slow brain aging and protect yourself from dementia, you should exercise.
Research shows exercising daily improves memory and thinking skills. It reverses age-related brain-shrinkage. It can even reduce your risk of developing cognitive issues by up to 90 percent.
But if you want to use exercise to improve your brain health, there are a few things you need to know…
Like what type of exercise works? And how much do you really need to exercise to keep your brain in tip-top shape?
Luckily, a recent study provides all the info you need to exercise your way to better brain health…
2 exercising rules for a young brain
Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recently uncovered a few important tips for exercising your way to a healthier, more youthful brain.
They reviewed 4,600 clinical trials, and they determined two things: what types of exercise lead to a healthier brain, and how much exercise you need to make a difference in your cognitive health.
Based on this large collection of high-quality research, they concluded that any of these types of exercise can give you better brain health:
- Tai chi
Now, these are a few of the specific types of exercise researchers mentioned in the study. But their message was clear… whether you do aerobic exercise, strength training, mind-body exercises or a combination of all three, you’re sure to reap brain aging benefits. But that’s not all they figured out…
They also learned that to improve your cognitive health, you need to exercise consistently for an extended time. More specifically, they determined the minimum amount of exercise you need in a six-month period to improve your cognitive abilities: 52 hours.
That means you need under nine hours a month of exercise to boost your brain — or a little over two hours per week. That’s not that much.
People who exercised that much consistently received totally worthwhile perks, like faster mental processing speed, which helps you make decisions, understand information, pay attention, plan and generally respond to the world in a smarter, quicker way.
People received these exercise-related perks whether they already had a healthy brain or they were dealing with the early signs of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment. So, exercise can help no matter where you’re at with your brain health.
Fitness lovers, rejoice!
The good news is, whatever type of exercise you enjoy, it’s probably slowing your brain aging.
Are you a world-class power walker? Every step is moving you toward a healthier brain. Is cross-fit your favorite form of exercise? Your brain’s better off for it. Or does downward dog really do the trick for you? Well, luckily it does the trick for your brain too.
All fitness lovers are winning in the brain health department. Although, I bet the best brain aging benefits come from a bit of variety. So, why not combine cardio, weight-training and mind-body exercise?
You can lift weights one day, go for a walk or run the next and then balance out the week with a yoga or tai chi session.
Or you can mix all three types of exercise into one workout. Start with a five-minute walking warmup. Then run, jog or sprint for a few minutes to get your heart pumping. Follow that with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and planks. Then finish your workout with yoga stretches like downward dog, hand-to-foot pose and head-to-knee pose.
Your body (and brain) will love the variety. Plus, you won’t burn yourself out on one type of exercise, so you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
Of course, the message here is that no matter how you get your exercise, you’re doing amazing things for your brain. So, you do you. Exercise the way that you find most enjoyable, and your brain will take care of the rest.
Editor’s note: One of the biggest dangers to anyone’s brain is a drug that 38 million Americans take every single day. It robs the brain of an essential nutrient required for optimal brain health. And it steals memories. Are you taking it? Click here to find out!
- Researchers determine exercise dose linked to improved cognition in older adults — MedicalXpress. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- Gomes-Osman, et al. “Exercise for cognitive brain health in aging: A systematic review for an evaluation of dose.” — Neurology Clinical Practice, 2018.
- Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills — Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved June 1, 2018.