We all know that it is important to our overall health that we get some type of exercise. Many people, however, do not know the importance of exercising their brain.
New research indicates that exercise aids the mind on countering the symptoms of dementia in seniors, and that no matter your age, it can boost your brain power!
The mind consists of five main cognitive functions: memory, attention, language, visual-spatial skills and executive function. It is important to challenge and stimulate all five areas to stay mentally sharp.
Here are five brain exercises you can add to your exercise routine:
Memory: Memory is crucial to all of our cognitive activities, such as reading, reasoning and calculation. A fun way to train the brain’s memory is by listening to music. Choose a song you do not know and memorize it. It will boost your levels of acetylcholine and, as an added bonus, it will lighten your mood. Acetylcholine helps build your brain, and improve your memory. You can take some challenges to train your brain too! Try getting dressed in the dark or brushing your teeth with the opposite hand.
Attention: It is important to maintain strong concentration – the type of concentration that isn’t disrupted by noise or other distractions. Improving your attention can be as easy as changing your daily routine. Take a different way to work, rearrange your desk or move your furniture. These steps will make your brain wake up from formed habits and begin paying close attention again. These steps can make you a pro at multitasking!
Language: Language activities challenge your brain to recognise, remember and understand words. They will also strengthen our grammatical skills and expand our vocabulary. To exercise this part of your brain, try reading things you normally would not. For instance, if you only read the lifestyle part of your local newspaper, try adding reading the business or sports sections. By doing so, you are treating your brain to new words.
Visual – spatial: Our world is one of colour. Our brain is analysing visual information essential for us to function within our environment. You can exercise this cognitive function by choosing five items in a room to concentrate on. Remember these items and their locations. Leave the room and try to remember these items and their locations. Two hours later try again to remember the items and their location.
Executive function: We make decisions on a daily basis by using our reasoning skills. Something as fun as video games can help train our executive functions. Also, visiting a friend is a training tool, because we have to engage in conversation where we must think through our responses. Video games require strategy – so the next time your spouse says you’re wasting your time on those games you can let them know you are training your brain!
Now that you have given the brain a good workout, it is time to whip that body into shape!
Our bodies were designed to move, and exercise cuts back your risks of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. Exercise improves your stamina, strengthens and tones, enhances your flexibility, controls your weight and improves the quality of your life.
Here are ten great exercises that you can do at home, without the need for any equipment: walking, jumping jacks, push-ups, leg lifts, crunches, jogging in place, squats, light weight lifting, dancing and step exercises.
So no more excuses – remember the old saying “Use it or lose it!”