Many of us know the physical benefits we reap when we exercise, but did you know that it keeps our mind healthy too? Exercise can improve brain function, keep the brain young and reduce the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
So, how does exercise do all these things?
Improves brain function
There is a part of the brain called the hippocampus which controls memory function. Research has discovered that exercising can help improve the functioning and maintenance of the hippocampus, therefore allowing it to work at its full potential.
Reduces the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Physical activity helps your brain receive vital blood and oxygen it needs to function and also helps create new, healthy brain cells. Exercise is also thought to directly reduce levels of toxic amyloid protein, which typically accumulates in patients with Alzheimer’s.
Keeps your brain young
Engaging in physical activity makes your body increase its production of chemicals that help protect your brain. As well as this protection, components within these chemicals such as BDNF proteins have been shown to fight causes of ageing within the brain.
Which exercises help?
Generally speaking, all types of exercise will help increase blood flow and improve cognitive function, but there are certain exercises prized for their brain boosting powers:
1. Resistance training – As well as keeping your muscles strong, resistance training can produce cells that replenish brain cells relating to memory.
2. Yoga – A great tool for mental sustainability, yoga helps to reduce stress, which can impair the memory component of the brain.
3. Walking and other aerobic activity – Studies show that just 30 minutes of walking three days a week can improve brain growth in the hippocampus.
If you want to learn more about Dementia and how a counsellor could help, please see our Dementia page.
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