Would you like to find a completely natural way to improve your mood, memory and protect your brain against the impending age-related decline in cognitive capacity? You better get moving, then. Literally.
Any aerobic exercise that gets you moving and sweating for a certain period of time, is overwhelmingly beneficial for the brain. This has been proved by an abundance of research, including two new studies published this spring.
The authors of a recent article in the Harvard Medical School blog, “Mind and Mood”, also agree with this. Aerobic exercise is not only good for your heart, but for your head too.
In order to lift your mood, it would be best to get sweaty and active by riding a bike for a few minutes. On the other hand, if you want to improve your memory you should repeat a certain exercise for several weeks. In fact, an aerobic exercise you can do repeatedly for at least 45 minutes at a time, will be the best type of fitness for your mind.
You may try a daily brisk walk or jog, depending on the benefits you have in mind. According to one pilot study on people with severe depression, 30 minutes of treadmill walking for only 10 days has produced a statistically significant reduction in depression.
Furthermore, a study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science stated that aerobic workouts are beneficial for people who aren’t suffering from clinical depression too. They help people feel less stressed by reducing the levels of adrenaline and cortisol. These are known as the body’s natural stress hormones.
When it comes to people over 50, they can achieve best results through a combination of aerobic and resistance exercises, as supported by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
This includes many exercises, from intense workouts like the 7-minute workout to yoga with a dynamic flow. This introduces several poses like planks and push-ups combined with different dancing moves.
Additional support to that research was provided by another study published on May 3. This study found that people aged 60-88 who walked for half an hour four days a week for 12 weeks experienced an improved memory. It was discovered that weakened connections in regions commonly associated with memory loss have been strengthened.
Researchers still don’t know the reason why this type of exercise gives a boost to the brain. However, studies suggest that it has something to do with increased blood flow which produces fresh oxygen and energy for our minds.
Recently, a study on older women with potential symptoms of dementia, showed that aerobic exercise also increases the hippocampus’s size. This is an area of the brain related to memory and learning.
According to the research of Joe Northey, the lead author of the British study and an exercise scientist at the University of Canberra, all people over age 50 who enjoy good health should exercise 45-60 minutes on as many days as they can.
So, if you notice you’re becoming more forgetful, maybe it’s time to put on your running shoes. Try to add an hour of cardio exercise to your daily routine. Both your heart and mind will thank you for it!