Physical Exercises that Can Help Boost Brain Power
By Ali Struhs
January 13, 2014
It’s no secret that physical activity can help improve your mood, mental alertness, and memory. As you age, your brain can begin to shrink, but exercise can slow this process and actually increase brain volume, helping to reduce the risk for cognitive dysfunction. Here are some of the best types of physical exercise for boosting brain power.
Cardiovascular exercises including dance, step aerobics, or kickboxing classes combine repetitive routines with high or low-impact exercises. You’ll not only help improve your coordination and strength, but also enhance your cognitive ability while trying to follow along with the instructor’s routine.
Even though walking is the simplest form of physical exercise, it can greatly affect your mood and could increase your energy. If you’re feeling sluggish at work, step outside and go for a short walk to rejuvenate your brain, or clear your head of the day’s stresses with a walk around the park with a family member.
If you need a higher impact exercise to clear your head, try going for a jog. Like many physical activities, running can release endorphins that can make you feel good. Running outside in a beautiful park or other relaxing setting can provide some of the same benefits of activities like meditation, which has been shown to relieve stress, increase your ability to recall information and reduce brain shrinkage.
Lifting weights will strengthen your muscles, as well as your brain. Help improve your mental focus by doing push-ups, pull-ups, or reps of weights at the gym just once a week. Resistance training may help increase your self-esteem. If you’ve grown tired and bored of your usual workout routine, circuit training combines cardio with resistance training to help boost calorie-burning and brain power. Because you switch between machines in short time increments, circuit training can keep your mind (and muscles) guessing.
For the ultimate stress-relieving exercise, practice yoga. Studies on yoga indicate it causes the brain to release calming chemicals like GABA that promote relaxation and a sense of well-being. For an easy introduction to yoga try simple poses like the tree pose, downward facing dog, and salute to the sun. Be sure to concentrate on your breathing, too.