How is exercise good for the brain?

Mirabai Holland
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that certain types of dance, particularly with routines to learn and remember, may help prevent age-onset memory loss and diseases like Alzheimer’s. “…. cognitive activity may stave off dementia by increasing a person's "cognitive reserve."

And a study conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, says activities that combined mental and social as well as physical stimulation offered the greatest protection against dementia.
Activity is the active word. Be physically active, mentally active and socially active, preferably all at once. Taking a cardio dance class or getting together with friends to do a cardio dance DVD is a good place to start. And to this day, when I start my cardio dance class I say, “It’s time to workout our hearts and minds!”
Physical exercise is like a natural wonder drug for your brain and body. It gets your heart to pump life-giving blood into your brain, supplying more oxygen, glucose and nutrients that your brain needs to function at its best. The benefits of exercise are tremendous:
  • it encourages the growth of new brain cells
  • it enhances cognitive ability
  • it improves your mood, calms anxiety, and helps alleviate depression
  • it fends off cognitive decline while it helps prevent, delay, and lessen the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • it enhances the ability of insulin to prevent high blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of diabetes
  • it burns fat
  • it helps ward off osteoporosis, breast cancer, and colon cancer
  • it improves muscle tone and endurance, which lowers the risk of fall accidents
  • it reduces the symptoms of ADD
  • it improves sleep
  • it can help women better cope with hormonal issues
  • it reduces the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
That’s a lot of benefit just for putting aside an hour four or more times a week to get your body moving. Plus, once you get over any initial resistance, it feels great. And those positive feelings seem to spill over into other areas of your life, where you start making healthier choices. People who are more physically active are also more likely to eat brain-healthy foods, get more and better quality sleep, seek out health-minded social support systems and just take better care of themselves in general.

Unleash the Power of the Female Brain Special Offer
Exercise is not only important for your heart, lungs, and muscles, but also for your brain. Research shows that exercise can help keep your mind sharp, promotes feelings of alertness and well-being, and wards off depression and anxiety. Start with 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week, such as walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, tai chi or Pilates. In addition, strength-training exercises can give your brain a boost. For an even greater mental boost try incorporating exercises in multiple directions using intricate movement patterns.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
It's no surprise that exercise is good for your heart, but it's also an elixir for your mind. It seems that more intense exercise preserves neurocognitive function by decreasing the expression of the Apo-E4 gene to help clear the beta-amyloid plaque that gunks up your power lines. Exercise has also been correlated with increased telomere length.

My suggestion for a brain-boosting workout: Once or twice a week, choose an exercise that requires not only your body to work but also your mind, such as Bikram yoga or a game of singles tennis. The sports or exercises that engage you in the moment can really help clear your mind at the same time.
You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

More About this Book

You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

International bestselling authors of YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: On a Diet give you all the tools and know-how to stay young and defy the ageing process. Drawing lively parallels between your...

Continue Learning about Mental Fitness & Nervous System

Beef Up Your Brain with Exercise
Beef Up Your Brain with Exercise
In the 1988 movie Twins, Julius and Vincent Benedict (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito) are the result of an experiment to produce the perfect c...
Read More
How can chatting keep my mind sharp?
Instead of popping in another movie rental, pick up the phone. Talking with someone else not only ge...
More Answers
How can redecorating my surroundings keep my brain sharp?
Making small changes in your surroundings can alter motor pathways in the brain and encourage new ce...
More Answers
What Exercises Can I Do to Keep My Mind and Memory Sharp?
What Exercises Can I Do to Keep My Mind and Memory Sharp?

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.