As we and our loved ones get older, we begin to worry more and more about brain health. One of the key aspects of maintaining good brain health is exercise.
Exercise is obviously a great thing for the physicality of our bodies, but it is great for our brains, too.
How can exercise be connected to brain health?
Aerobic exercise preserves existing brain cells while fostering the growth of new ones. Physical activity keeps the blood flowing in your brain and increases the chemicals that protect the brain.
Studies have found that physical activity can help the area of the brain that is the first to be damaged in Alzheimer’s disease. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent.
What type of exercise?
The best way to approach a physical activity plan is to focus on a balanced of exercise types—ideally a combination of aerobic (or cardio) and strength training. Aerobic exercise can be activities such as walking, running, swimming, biking, etc. Strength training does not have to be anything crazy with super heavy weights-- just something that involves moderate levels of weight and resistance, such as Pilates or yoga.
In addition to aerobic exercise and strength training, it is important to also include balance and coordination exercises, such as yoga or balance ball exercises. Improving balance and coordination can lower the risk of falls, which can lower the probability of head injuries caused by falls.
The recommended amount of exercise each week is 150 minutes. One of the most common ways to split this time up is 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
How to get started
If you are looking to get into exercise for the first time in a while or ever, here are some tips for getting started.
See your doctor
Your doctor can assess your fitness capabilities as well as can identify which exercises will be most beneficial for you.
Make a plan
An exercise plan is helpful in order to hold yourself accountable. If you plan out what you will be doing each week, you can ensure that you will be hitting your exercise time goals and it can save you time and stress each day.
Fuel your body
Make sure to consume enough water each day to keep yourself hydrated. Hydration makes exercise safer and easier. Additionally, fuel your body with healthy and balanced meals and snacks in order to get the most out of your physical activity.