Exercises are good for the body, most especially the brain which is one of the most complex organs in the human body, but which type of exercise, in particular, is good for the brain?
From our last article where we talked about exercise and its impact on the brain, we understood that the use of exercise cannot be overemphasized. We also understood that exercise makes the heart pumps blood faster, and when this happens, more oxygen and nutrients will be available in the brain.
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So what types of exercises make the heart pumps faster? To answer this question; try running or jogging for at least 45 mins non-stop, and place your hand on your chest to feel the beat of your heart, it is faster now right? This type of exercise is called Aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise is also known as cardio, it is a physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. The term ‘aerobic’ simply means ‘relating to, involving or requiring free oxygen’. In a sentence, we can refer to it as the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. In other words, it is a type of exercise that requires pumping of oxygenated blood of the heart to deliver oxygen to working muscles, and also the brain.
Aerobic exercises do not include running alone. Other examples are walking, climbing, swimming, walking, hiking, dancing, kickboxing, aerobic strength circuit (squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, glute bridges), jump rope (skipping), etc.
Apart from supplying oxygen to the brain, the aforementioned exercises (aerobic exercises) are associated with the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus – a part of the brain that is dedicated to storing memories and forming new ones. They also strengthen and enlarge the heart muscle, to improve its pumping efficiency and reduce the resting heart rate (aerobic conditioning). They also improve circulation efficiency, increase the total number of red blood cells in the body, and improve mental health (reducing stress and lowering depression). Aerobic exercises also reduce the risk of diabetes and death due to cardiovascular problems.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, is another form of exercise that is beneficial to the brain. Unlike what most people think it is not only for bodybuilders. Weight lifting or using a resistance band does not only builds your muscles and strengthens your bones, but it can also boost your brainpower, improves your mood, enhance concentration, and increase your decision-making skills.
Weight lifting also improves posture, gives you better sleep, gaining bone density, maintaining weight loss, boosting metabolism, lowering inflammation, and staving off chronic disease, among a list of the other positive effects it has.
Yoga, Tai chi, or even a blend of both are also other forms of exercises that are beneficial to the brain. Some benefits include boost overall intelligence, increases happiness, decrease stress, reduces pain, increases self-awareness, increases information processing, improves flexibility as well as strength, improves balance, and many more.
Nevertheless know this: No matter the kind of exercise you do, it will help your aging brain. Be it aerobic exercise, strength training, or yoga, your brain and body as a whole would definitely benefit from it. Rather than the mode of the exercise or even if it is a combination of two or even the three of them, its better you focus more on the duration of time spent during the exercise.
What matters most is highly up to you; which do you prefer: Aerobic exercises, weight training, or doing yoga? The benefits of exercising in your life, most especially for the brain, far outweigh the benefits of not exercising at all.