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Exercises to Keep Your Brain Healthy

May is mental health month and this is a growing problems for Americans of all ages! Cognitive processes can be divided into six areas:

  1. Attention
  2. Perception
  3. Memory
  4. Language
  5. Learning
  6. Higher reasoning.

These can occur both simultaneously and independently, but they often intertwine to orchestrate how we think, feel and move our way through life.

Why Exercise Keeps Your Brain Healthy

When you get moving, you increase circulation, which in a sense exercises the blood vessels themselves and helps to prevent neurodegenerative conditions known to create cognitive impairment. Exercise also helps to control blood sugar levels. Recent studies have shown that people with impaired glucose tolerance and blood sugar balance have deficits in the hippocampus—a part of the brain involved in forming and accessing memories.

How To Grow a More Robust Brain

It’s well known that parts of the brain that are worked more tend to grow more robust. As exercise increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, it directly improves circulation there as well as the health of the blood-brain barrier, the system that helps deliver nutrients to brain cells.

For this reason, aerobic exercise—running, swimming, cycling—is the most beneficial for basic brain health as you age. As aerobic exercise increases your heart rate, more blood and oxygen are pumped to this most important organ for survival.

Exercise gives you increased mental acuity by sharpening your ability to respond, focus on where your body goes, and take cues from the environment and people around you.

What Types of Exercise are Best for Brain Health?

We as humans need a range of activities that switch mental function from one task to another, so that this mind-body connection gets a full workout. Besides aerobic exercise, it’s good to include activities with a problem-solving element, such as housework, gardening, building or DIY.

The Benefits of Getting Into Nature

Maybe most important of all, the more you can get out into nature, the more you connect with the natural world, which helps to lower stress hormones. You’ll also be challenged to be responsive to the changing ground underneath your feet.

This helps to reduce the psychosocial stress of modern living and continual brain overwhelm, which can wear down cognition. Nature helps to bring you into the present moment, a state of mind that can be replicated with mindful practices.

Movement With Full Conscious Awareness

Any movement or exercise with full consciousness of the experience promotes cognitive health. Yoga is one such mindful practice and has been shown to have particular benefit for brain function, as have tai chi and qigong. This is consistent with evidence from imaging studies showing that the brains of elderly female yoga practitioners had greater cortical thickness (meaning more brain cells were present) in the left prefrontal cortex, an area in the brain associated with cognitive functions such as memory and attention.

Variable Movements

Switching movement types and direction forward, backward and side-to-side requires quick adjustments of the brain to process these challenging signals, which in turn supports memory, concentration and productivity.

Balance Practices

Balance practice also helps to increase focus; you need to stay aware of where your body is in space as it continually rights itself back toward the center of gravity. Regular balancing practices have been shown to improve memory and spatial cognition, the sense of where and when you are at any given moment. This ‘presence’ only occurs when you maintain attention with steady, fixed gaze while breathing with ease.

Reducing the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response stops you from reacting to change and instead increases neuroplasticity, your ability to mentally adapt and stay flexible with change. This is a great recipe for maintaining and growing cognitive function.

Who Can Benefit From Better Brain Health?

Everyone in your life: spouse, kids, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors can benefit from better BRAIN health. The body is a self-healing organism, the power to heal travels from your brain through your spinal cord out your nerves to your organs and tissues.

Your body is so amazing that it knows how to heal at 100%, 100% of the time… it needs no help just no interference. It is time to maximize your BRAIN health and inspire those in your life to do the same.



Thursday, May 25th at 6:45 p.m.

Call us to get registered, or register on Facebook here.