With all the press about Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, most of us are wanting to do everything we can to increase our brain fitness.
One of the best ways to do that is through various forms of exercise. We wrote a post earlier this year about how yoga may be even better for your brain than aerobic exercise, but that isn’t a good reason to throw aerobics out the window! Yoga is particularly supportive of activities requiring calmness and focus, and your body and your brain will benefit the most from a routine of cross-training which includes yoga and stretching, strength-training, and cardiovascular exercise.
Cardiovascular exercise helps your brain in many ways, and here are a few of them:
1. Moderate to vigorous levels of exercise will increase levels of brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that help you feel better.
2. Symptoms of depression may be reduced, some studies report that it can work just as well as antidepressants.
3. Aerobic exercise not only helps you be more prepared for learning, it actually improves learning. This effect is intensified when you are doing an activity that requires some coordination like tennis.
4. It increases blood flow, resulting in getting oxygen and nutrients to the brain more quickly.
5. Cardiovascular exercise helps to increase motivation, creativity and attention.
6. Regular exercise helps to reduce memory loss, but it also increases your ability to learn new things.
7. Aerobic activity helps us to manage our weight (did you know that people that are obese have twice as much risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those at a healthy weight?)
We can sum this up in a great quote by John Ratey, who wrote the book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain:”
“Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning. Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”
Don’t forget to keep moving!