Exercise and Your Brain

Exercise and Your Brain

You know exercise is good for your body, but research shows it can also be good for your brain.

Being physically active beginning at a young age and throughout life can help reduce the likelihood of dementia, according to a recent Canadian study. Simply keeping active by walking regularly can help keep the mind active and alert. A University of Illinois study found that three, vigorous, 40 minute walks per week can improve memory and reasoning.

And you can go one step further – exercise your brain.  Research by brain scientists continue to find that actively engaging in everything from cross word puzzles to sophisticated computer games can keep your brain sharp as you age.

Are brain gyms next?

It’s possible.  With the aging of the baby boomer generation, you can expect to see all sorts of new ways to stay healthy and active as you age. Staying fit can help push back signs of dementia and help reduce health care costs in older people, who often need long term care where the signs of dementia set in.

But experts say not all brain games are the same. For example, the game Angry Birds is fun and challenging, but may not really help you systematically improve your memory and recall.

Here are three tips on what to look for in a brain game:

  1. Are their scientists and a scientific advisory board behind the development of the program?
  2. Do the exercises vary and teach you something new continually?  You don’t want to be doing the same thing over and over again.  You want to be able to proceed and build to new levels of difficulty to make your brain work harder.
  3. Is the program motivating and challenging?  Something you really want to sit down and do because it is fun and challenging.  If not, like any other kind of exercise you’ll soon set it aside.

A healthy brain and a healthy body is a great prescription for aging well.