Give your brain a boost
It’s official: exercise is good for your brain. And no, not just for your mental health (although it is (seriously!) great for that, which you can read about here), but for your grey matter’s physical capabilities, or cognitive function, too. In particular it can:
Sharpen your memory. Research has found that people who do aerobic, or cardiovascular exercise regularly, have higher levels of hormones associated with a strong memory. It’s never too late to start benefiting, either. Another study discovered that when sedentary adults aged in their late 50s to mid 70s embarked on an exercise program, which involved doing three hours of activity a week, their memory improved.
Improve your ability to perform complex mental tasks. Research has also shown that physical exercise can increase the connectivity, or coordination of important brain networks. As a result, when study participants who’d been exercising regularly for a year were put to the test, they performed much better on cognitive tests than people who hadn’t – and significantly improved on their own pre-study test results, too.
And protect against dementia. A US study that tracked people for three decades made the connection between increasing physical activity levels with larger brain volumes in areas associated with protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists say it’s an effect that’s significant enough to reduce a person’s risk of that disease by an impressive 50 per cent. Interestingly, a wide range of exercises, everything from walking and cycling, to gardening and dancing, were effective at producing the beneficial effect.