Losing your memory, becoming forgetful, and being unable to think clearly is a common fear that most people have as they get older.
Unfortunately the idea that aging naturally results in memory problems and cognitive issues has become such a part of our mainstream culture, and even conventional medicine, that if you talk to your doctor about your memory issues, you’ll likely be told that they’re just a normal part of aging.
But, memory loss and cognition problems are anything but normal.
We all know people who are sharp as a tack well into their 90s.
And, you’ve probably even wondered what their secret is to preserving their memory and keeping their brains nimble.
Well, it turns out that the secret to a nimble brain is a nimble body… and the best way to get both is to exercise.
You see, exercise is not just good for maintaining a lower weight and slimmer body. It’s not even just about preserving muscle tone and preventing bone loss.
In fact, the number one reason why you should get more physically active, is actually all about your brain.
So, if you’ve started to have memory problems or noticed that you or a loved one is just not quite as sharp as you used to be…
Or, if you want to get ahead of memory problems before they start, it’s time to get active…
Why exercise matters
Multiple studies have shown the connection between lack of exercise and accelerated brain aging.
The less physically active you are, the more likely you are to experience poor memory and concentration, impaired thinking skills and overall decreased cognitive function.
In fact in one study, people who reported light to no exercise experienced a decline equal to 10 more years of brain aging as compared to people who engaged in moderate to intense exercise.
The reason physical exercise has such an impact on brain health is that helps to control blood pressure, obesity, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels, all of which are risk factors for neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Added to that, exercise may also increase the amount of an important protein in the brain know as brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor or BDNF.
BDNF works by promoting the growth of new brain cells and helping them to connect to each other, which could actually be associated with the ability to make new memories as well as preserve old ones. (BDNF can fight age-related diseases, like macular degeneration, too.)
Best exercises for decreased brain aging
Any exercise that gets you up and moving will have benefits for your brain but here are a few good options to consider.
#1 – Walking
Walking is great for improving muscles strength, breathing, and getting blood and oxygen flowing to your brain. Whether you choose an indoor track or treadmill or want to take in nature while you get your exercise, walking is the easiest way to get your daily dose of brain boosting exercise
#2 – Swimming
Swimming offers all of the benefits of walking with less stress on your joints. So, if you have access to a pool and have concerns about your joints, swimming could be the choice for you.
#3 – Stationary bike
A stationary bike is easy to use and improves your cardiovascular health, your circulation, and your flexibility. It’s also a wonderful way to get all of the benefits of exercise to improve your brain health without ever leaving your house.
Choose the exercise that you like the most and that you will continue to do. You won’t just feel better, you will also think better and more clearly, delay memory problems, and keep a healthy brain longer.