About 40% of those over 65 see some memory decrease due to age.1 Are you worried about forgetting as you get older? Or just want to boost your brainpower? Studies say that daily exercise is key to keeping your mind sharp.1

Working out doesn’t just help your body. It also protects your brain. When you exercise, your brain makes new cells. Plus, it keeps the existing brain parts healthy. This boosts your thinking skills and overall health.

Key Takeaways

  • Exercise can help prevent age-related cognitive decline by promoting neurogenesis and neuroprotection.
  • Aerobic exercise and resistance training have been shown to provide different cognitive benefits.
  • Engaging in a variety of exercise modalities, such as dancing, cycling, and Tai Chi, can help stimulate the brain.
  • Consistency and duration of exercise are crucial for long-term brain health benefits.
  • Personalized exercise routines that accommodate individual needs can maximize the cognitive advantages.

Importance of Exercise for Brain Health

As we get older, our brains start to shrink naturally. This happens because our brain cells get smaller, and they have fewer connections between them.1 This shrinking can make us gradually think a bit slower. But, exercise helps fight this by making more neurotrophins. These help keep our brain cells strong and good at talking to each other.1

Age-Related Cognitive Decline and Exercise

At least 40% of people who are 65 or older see some memory loss.1 In the U.S., about 21 million seniors face this loss.1 How fast and bad this decline happens depends on many things, like how we live. Being active and doing brain-stimulating activities can help a lot.1

Exercise Promotes Neurogenesis and Neuroprotection

Moving our bodies can make our thinking better by creating new brain cells through neurogenesis.1 Special proteins, neurotrophins, are key in caring for brain cells and growing new ones.1 So, exercise is great at making and saving new brain cells, which increases our brain power and keeps our minds healthy overall.

Aerobic Exercise and Brain Function

Doing activities like aerobic exercise and resistance training can make your brain work better.1 Aerobics improve how smart you are. Weightlifting makes you better at things like making plans and remembering stuff.1

Leading an active life helps keep your mind sharp as you grow older.1 It takes working out regularly for 6 to 12 months to see a real difference.1 Even doing a little aerobic exercise each day can add up to better brain health.1

Cardiovascular Benefits for the Brain

Experts say you should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week.1 Plus, older folks need to lift weights twice a week. This keeps both body and mind strong.1

Optimal Intensity for Brain Health

It’s not just the exercise type that helps, but also how hard you work out.2 Quick, intense exercises might boost your thinking skills more than slower, steady workouts.2 Finding the right mix of aerobics and weights at the perfect level makes a big difference for your brain.

Resistance Training and Cognitive Enhancement

Resistance training helps your brain, just like aerobic exercise does. It’s great for executive function, memory, and working memory.3 Whether you lift weights, use your own body for exercise, or stretch bands, it’s all good. This kind of training makes your hippocampus bigger and enhances your memory.3 After a good workout, your brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex gets going. This boosts your thinking skills, helping you do better on tests like the Stroop test.3

Strength Training for Executive Function and Memory

Working out with weights seems to be best for your brain’s executive function, memory, and working memory.1 It might sound complex, but the main idea is simple: doing these exercises helps your brain grow new cells and protect the ones you have.1 Plus, these exercises help create substances that are key for brain cell health and growth.1

How hard you work out matters for your brain. Take cues from the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale to find the right toughness for you.1 It’s always smart to talk to a doctor before a new exercise plan, especially if you want to boost brainpower.1

Doing your weight training regularly for at least 6 to 12 months is important. This is when you’ll really see changes in how your brain works.1 Mixing up your exercises, both aerobic and weight training, is the way to go. It fights off the cognitive decline that can happen with age.1

Best Exercise Routines for Optimal Brain Function

Combining Aerobic and Resistance Training

Think of your workouts as you think of your meals. It’s important to mix the right exercises for long-term health. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. They also suggest doing resistance training twice weekly, especially for older adults.1

Variety and Novelty in Exercise

Changing up your exercise routine is good for your brain. It keeps you alert and your brain cells working well. Just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your brain’s function.1

For a clearer mind, keep up your exercise. It takes 6 to 12 months of regular workouts to see better thinking skills. Always talk to a doctor before you change your exercise routine, especially if you have health issues.1

Dancing and Brain Health

Dancing is fun and good for your brain. It lessens the risk of dementia. A German study highlighted dancing’s positive impact on mental and physical health as we age.4 It involves being novel, complex, social, and intellectually stimulating, which are great for the brain.5

Benefits of Dance for Cognitive Stimulation

Dance boosts the hippocampus, which manages memory, learning, and balance.4 A study with 52 exercisers found dance and sports led to a bigger hippocampus in 18 months.5 Dance training can lessen dementia and Alzheimer’s risks.5 Older adults (65-80) in dance and walking groups showed that dance led to a bigger right hippocampus.4 Physical and cognitive activities, like dancing, are key for brain health over time.4

Don’t like dancing around others? Try online dance cardio or fitness classes. You can get the brain benefits without facing social fears.

Cycling for Brain Protection

Outdoor cycling seems good for the brains of folks 50 and older.1 But, studies point to indoor cycling as helpful for those with Parkinson’s.6

A clinical trial is on with inactive high-risk folks, ages 65 to 80. They use the Peloton bike indoors. The goal is to see if cycling 3 times a week for 30 minutes benefits their brain health and wards off Alzheimer’s.1

Exercise is said to protect nerves and lower brain inflammation.1 So, cycling might not only boost your legs but also your brain.

Outdoor and Indoor Cycling Studies

Cycling often cuts the chance of death for diabetic individuals by 24%. After at least 5 years, this can drop death rates by 35%.6

Indoor cycling helps lower bad cholesterol while raising the good one and cutting triglycerides.6 Riding a bike to work can largely cut down Europe’s transportation carbon output by 67%.6

Yet, stay safe on your bike. In 2014, 726 cyclists died, and 50,000 were hurt in the U.S.6 Still, cycling seems to lower the chance of heart problems and deaths. It’s also linked to better health by fighting off diabetes, sedentary life, and high blood pressure.6


Interval Training and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factors

Interval training boosts BDNF, a protein key for brain health. It fosters learning and memory.7 It’s vital to balance training, avoiding overdoing it but pushing yourself.7 For example, mixing jogging with short bursts of speed keeps benefits high and lactic acid low.7

Optimal Intensity for BDNF Production

Exercise lifts BDNF levels, especially in active mice versus inactive ones.7 Mice on running wheels for 30 days showed more BDNF, suggesting this is backed by research.7 These active mice also had more of a liver molecule that boosts BDNF in the brain.7

Moving significantly boosts Bdnf gene activity, aiding the brain and guarding against harm.7 This increase is especially strong in the hippocampus, vital for learning and memory.7 Moreover, it benefits the entire nervous system, aiding those with depression and brain diseases.7

BDNF makes learning and memory better by jumpstarting key pathways.7 It boosts mRNA in the hippocampus, crucial for adapting and thinking.7 Post-workout, brain ketones also help by supporting energy and upping BDNF.7

Studies show exercise helps brain health by lifting BDNF in the hippocampus, useful for Parkinson’s.8 In models, BDNF defends better than GDNF, hinting at its key role in brain recovery.8 The presence of certain factors, especially BDNF, leads to better function in those with Parkinson’s.8

Walking and Cognitive Function

Walking is great for our health. But, walking quickly has extra good effects on our brains. In 2018, a study found that taking more than 4,000 steps a day boosted memory in older people.9 It’s a simple, cost-free activity that can be done alone, with friends, or surrounded by nature.10 Try to walk at a fast pace to get the most benefits for your cognitive health.

Step Counts and Memory Improvement

Engaging in physical activities like walking has both physical and mental benefits.10 Science shows that exercises such as walking can enhance our brain’s health and memory.11 For older adults, walking helps keep their minds sharp.9 It also cuts the dementia risk in active older men and slows memory loss in older women.9

It’s advised to mix up exercises to better your brain and memory.11 Also, get up and move from sitting often during the day. This small shift can boost brain health.11 Living an active life and doing regular exercise can also keep your mind strong as you age.9

Tai Chi for Balance and Cognition

Tai chi is a mix of balance, control, and moving your body with your breath. This makes it great for the brain.12 It can help improve memory, mood, and reduce stress.12 It’s gentle on the body, perfect for older adults and new to exercise people.

Mind-Body Exercise for Brain Growth

12 Research proves Tai Chi delays thinking and memory problems in older adults with mild issues.12 It also helps people in the first stages of dementia think better.12 Tai Chi boosts skills like how fast you think, pay attention, and remember things in these people.13 It even helps elderly with memory issues to think better overall.13

12 A study shows Tai Chi can change the way our brain works and helps us think more flexibly.12 It also looks into how Tai Chi can make us feel emotionally.

13 Tai Chi has been suggested as a way to help treat a condition where thinking and memory lessen. It helps improve memory, learning, and how you see things in these people.13 Memory gets better, according to research, with Tai Chi, and so do skills for remembering things later.13

13 Tai Chi might also slow down a condition that leads to memory loss and helps improve brain function.13

Tai Chi

Duration and Consistency for Long-Term Benefits

Consistency over time is vital for the benefits of exercise.14 Physical exercise changes the brain physically and mentally in big ways.14 But, it takes 6 to 12 months of regular exercise to see better brain function.14 Even with shorter workouts, the brain can change, yet this may not boost thinking right away.14 Keeping up with exercise is key for long-lasting mental benefits.

Exercise Recommendations for Brain Health

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.14 They also advise doing some strength exercises twice a week.14 This mix of activities can help grow new brain cells and connections, as well as other brain changes.14 Research finds that being active and fit can make thinking better in older people, even without memory problems.15

Importance of Regular Exercise Routine

Having and sticking to an exercise plan is crucial for keeping your brain healthy.16 Those who were more active, even at light levels, did better on tests and had a lower dementia risk.16 For the best brain health, they recommend hard activity three times a week for 15 minutes each, or moderate activity for 30 minutes five days a week.16 Making exercise a usual habit can safeguard your brain and thinking overtime.

Tailoring Exercise for Individual Needs

Customizing exercise for everyone is crucial. It helps people at various stages in their health journey.17 These tailored plans make physical activity more beneficial. Exercises that boost balance, coordination, agility, and flexibility are particularly helpful. Doing them regularly brings many health advantages.17

It’s vital to stick to a regular exercise routine. This should include both aerobic and strength training. You should change the difficulty and length of exercises to fit your fitness and likes.17 For those with neurological issues, experts like physical and occupational therapists can craft plans specifically for them.17 These tailored plans help people start smoothly and increase activities over time. They also suggest the use of tools to make exercises safe and easier.

It’s important to have places and schemes that everyone can use.17 Collaborating with healthcare providers helps design an exercise plan that’s just right. It supports brain health and happiness.17

Source Links

  1. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7944120/best-exercises-for-brain-health/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9256523/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6617693/
  4. https://fitminds.ca/brain-health-dance/
  5. https://www.lesmills.com/us/fit-planet/fitness/dance-and-brain-function/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/cycling-benefits
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4915811/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10968162/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8066196/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9778927/
  11. https://www.prevention.com/health/memory/a42658129/brain-exercises-for-memory/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9131984/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9906996/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934999/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075983/
  16. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/exercise-and-brain-health
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10442603/

Leave a Comment