How to Boost Brain Health with Physical Activity

You can boost your brain health and protect your memory by getting regular physical activity.

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Introduction

It is well-known that leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a host of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. However, recent research has also shown that there is a link between physical activity and brain health. A growing body of evidence suggests that being physically active can help to improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of developing dementia, and slow down the progression of cognitive decline in older adults.

How Physical Activity Helps the Brain

It is a well-known fact that physical activity is integral to overall health, but did you know that it also has a significant impact on brain health? Exercise has been shown to improve cognitive functioning, increase brain volume, and protect the brain from age-related damage.

Improves brain plasticity

Physical activity helps the brain in multiple ways. It increases the size of the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning, and improves brain plasticity, which is important for making new connections between neurons. Physical activity also increases levels of BDNF, a protein that helps to protect and repair brain cells.

Increases BDNF

Physical activity has been shown to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a protein that helps to support the health of nerve cells and promotes the growth and development of new ones. This can lead to improved cognitive function, memory, and learning.

Reduces inflammation

Research has shown that physical activity can help reduce inflammation in the brain. This is important because inflammation is believed to contribute to the development of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Physical activity may also help by promoting the growth of new brain cells and improving blood flow to the brain.

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The Best Types of Physical Activity for Brain Health

Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your brain health. It can help improve your memory and mental sharpness, and can even reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. But not all physical activity is equal when it comes to brain health. So what are the best types of physical activity for brain health?

Cardio

Regular physical activity is important for maintaining good health overall, and that includes brain health. Research has shown that regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing dementia, and it can also improve cognitive function in people who already have dementia.

So what type of physical activity is best for boosting brain health? Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is a good choice. Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and gets you breathing harder, which delivers oxygen-rich blood to your brain.

There is evidence that aerobic exercise can help improve memory and thinking skills in people of all ages, including children, adolescents, adults, and older adults. In one study, for example, sedentary older adults who began an aerobic exercise program showed improvements in their memory and executive function (the ability to pay attention, plan ahead, and juggle multiple tasks) after just six months.

Other research has shown that aerobic exercise can help improve memory and thinking skills in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In one study, people with Alzheimer’s who did aerobic exercise three times per week for six months had improvements in their scores on tests of mental function.

So if you’re looking for an activity that’s good for your body and your brain, aim for some cardio. brisk walking, running, swimming, dancing, or biking are all great choices.

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Strength Training

Research has shown that strength training can have a number of brain-boosting benefits. For one, it can help increase brain size and protect against age-related decline. In fact, one study found that just six months of strength training increased the size of participants’ hippocampi (an area of the brain associated with memory and learning).

In addition to its effects on brain structure, strength training has also been linked with improved cognitive function. One study found that older adults who participated in strength training showed increased scores on measures of executive function (a set of cognitive skills that includes planning, flexibility, and problem solving) compared to those who did not participate in strength training.

Similarly, another study found that older adults who participated in 16 weeks of strength training had improved scores on tests of attention and processing speed compared to those who did not participate in the training. These findings suggest that strength training may help to preserve cognitive function as we age.

Balance Training

Balance training is a type of physical activity that helps improve your balance and coordination. It is important for brain health because it can help reduce your risk of falling and injuring yourself. Balance training can be done at any age and is especially important for older adults. There are many ways to do balance training, such as using a balance board, doing yoga, or taking a Tai Chi class.

How Much Physical Activity do You Need for Brain Health?

You don’t have to become a marathon runner or swim competitively to boost your brain health with physical activity. Just get moving! The evidence is clear that physical activity of all kinds – from aerobic to anaerobic to strength training – has a positive impact on brain health. So, how much physical activity do you need for brain health?

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150 minutes per week

You don’t have to go crazy to keep your brain in good shape. Just 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week is all it takes, according to a recent study from Sweden.

That’s just 20 minutes a day, five days a week. And it doesn’t have to be all at once; two 10-minute walks or a 25-minute bike ride counts.

The study looked at data from more than 1.1 million Swedish men and women over the age of 40, and found that those who met the guidelines for moderate aerobic activity were 35% less likely to develop dementia than those who didn’t exercise at all.

3-5 times per week

Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your brain health. It can help improve your mood, memory, and focus, and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive decline.

But how much physical activity do you need to see these benefits? A recent review of studies on physical activity and brain health found that people who were physically active 3-5 times per week had the greatest cognitive benefits.

So if you want to boost your brain health, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 3-5 times per week. This can include walking, biking, swimming, or other aerobic activities that get your heart rate up. You can also add in some strength-training a couple of times per week for even more brain benefits.

Conclusion

Physical activity is important for maintaining brain health throughout your life. Even moderate exercise can help to improve brain function, and protect against age-related decline. So get moving today and give your brain the boost it needs!

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