Advertisement

How can exercising my mind improve my brain health?

Exercising your mind is just as important to brain health as exercising your body is. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine monitoring 470 older Americans for five years found that those who played board games several times a week with others enjoyed a 74 percent lower risk of developing dementia. Other protective activities include playing a musical instrument (which yielded a 69 percent lower risk) and doing crosswords regularly (which conferred a 47 percent lower risk). Scientists believe such activities help maintain mental fitness by stimulating connections between brain cells—and building up new brain cells which replace those that die.

Engaging in activities that involve making many quick decisions challenges the mind and can lead to an increase in mental acuity.  Exercising your mind helps to strengthen current synapses or “connections” in the brain and can even form new ones.  The New England Journal of Medicine published a 21 year study on senior citizens that showed that frequent dancing helped with protecting against dementia.  Dancing that involves making many quick decisions challenges the mind can lead to an increase in mental acuity.  Engaging in activity that requires making many split-second decisions involves the use of various brain functions all at once. 

Gary Small, MD
Psychiatry

Neuroscientist and Alzheimer's disease expert Dr. Gary Small explains how exercising your mind can improve your brain health. Watch Dr. Small's video for important tips and information about brain health.


Continue Learning about Benefits of Regular Exercise

The More We Move, the More We Improve
The More We Move, the More We Improve
Photo Credit: Angelo DeSantis, via Flickr Creative Commons Research related to exercise over the past decade has been consistently clear about one th...
Read More
What exercises help prevent diseases?
Eric OlsenEric Olsen
Physical activity confers a variety of benefits in terms of reduced risk of the so-called diseas...
More Answers
Why should I start physical activity early in life?
Eric OlsenEric Olsen
There are several reasons why you should start physical activity early in life. First, the longer yo...
More Answers
What Are the Psychological Benefits of Exercise?
What Are the Psychological Benefits of Exercise?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.