Contrary to popular belief, memory loss is neither a normal nor natural process of aging. But, if you want to maintain the strength and vitality of your brain as you age, you must take a proactive role. Just as your body needs strength-building exercise to keep your muscles fit, so does your brain.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of both forms of exercise and introduce you to the exciting practice of brain aerobics—mental gymnastics for your brain!
The Importance of Physical Exercise
Did you know that regular physical exercise can reduce your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to a stunning 50%? Moreover, studies have shown that women from age 40 to 60 who exercised regularly were seen to have a dramatic reduction in memory loss and cognitive decline. That’s right– they kept their brain power at optimal strength! More recent findings suggest that an overall active lifestyle is the key to brain and body health.
To see the best benefits of your exercise program, the latest research reveals that the magic number for maintaining cognitive fitness with age and preventing Alzheimer’s is to work up to a level of 150 minutes per week of a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Great ways to get in your aerobic exercise include brisk walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, and playing tennis, or going to the gym and utilizing an elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike.
Anything that gets your heart pumping and your muscles moving is heading you in the right direction to better overall health. Plus when you include strength training (e.g., weights, resistance machines, isometrics, etc.), you maintain your muscle mass and prevent osteoporosis and related illness.
Keep reading to discover how you can work out your brain to keep it in the same good shape as your renewed body, in your goal to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefiting from Brain Aerobics
Neurologists report that mental exercise can reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70%. With numbers like that, it’s amazing that everyone isn’t exercising their brains more often. Get a head start by spending at least 20 minutes, three times a week doing mental exercises.
Don’t know what brain aerobics are? It’s simple. Whenever you challenge your brain with novel tasks (anything new or different), you’re exercising your brain and improving brain function. In order for an activity to be considered brain aerobics, three conditions must be met. The activity needs to:
Mind Games generously donated by Cranium Crunches
- Engage your attention.
- Involve more than one of your senses.
- Break a routine activity in an unexpected, nontrivial way.
Some examples of fantastic, brain-building mental exercises include reading, writing, playing board games, and doing crossword puzzles.
For more fun examples of innovative brain aerobics, order a free copy of our brochure: The Power of Brain Aerobics—Maximize Your Memory.
to support our educational programs that empower individuals to keep their brain sharp as they age.
Learn about Pillar 4 – Spiritual Fitness
JAMA. 2009 Aug 12;302(6):627-37. doi: 10.1001/jama.2009.1144.
Physical activity, diet, and risk of Alzheimer disease.
Scarmeas N, Luchsinger JA, Schupf N, Brickman AM, Cosentino S, Tang MX, Stern Y.
BMC Neurol. 2010 Feb 17;10:14. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-10-14.
Promotion of the mind through exercise (PROMoTE): a proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial of aerobicexercise training in older adults with vascular cognitive impairment.
Liu-Ambrose T, Eng JJ, Boyd LA, Jacova C, Davis JC, Bryan S, Lee P, Brasher P, Hsiung GY.
Mol Psychiatry. 2012 Nov 20. doi: 10.1038/mp.2012.162.
[Epub ahead of print] Multiple effects of physical activity on molecular and cognitive signs of brain aging: can exercise slow neurodegeneration and delay Alzheimer’s disease?
Brown BM, Peiffer JJ, Martins RN.
Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2013 Jan-Feb;56(1):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2012.06.016. Epub 2012 Sep 5.
Walking stabilizes cognitive functioning in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) across one year.
Winchester J, Dick MB, Gillen D, Reed B, Miller B, Tinklenberg J, Mungas D, Chui H, Galasko D, Hewett L, Cotman CW.
J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2012 Apr;16(2):230-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2011.08.003. Epub 2011 Sep 16.
Lifelong physical activity affects mini mental state exam scores in individuals over 55 years of age.
Nemati Karimooy H, Hosseini M, Nemati M, Esmaily HO.
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Jul;19(7):654-63. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181f7d8b0.
Effects of socially stimulating group intervention on lonely, older people’s cognition: a randomized, controlled trial.
Pitkala KH, Routasalo P, Kautiainen H, Sintonen H, Tilvis RS.