6 Exercises that will Boost Your Brain
There are many significant reasons for individuals to stay physically active.
The major ones include lessening the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Or perhaps, you just want to indulge in it to lose weight, look and feel better, or prevent depression. Here is another one which especially applies to those of us experiencing the coming-of-age brain fog. Movement, on the other hand, changes the way the human brain functions; protecting both memory and thinking skills.
Why your brain needs to get up and moving
A contributor at Forbes, Christine Comaford, suggests that the biggest indicator of her clients’ success in setting up their leadership is the role of exercise in their lives – they should either have an existing workout practice or must be willing to start one. One thing is for sure though: it is never too late to start.
As reported by the American Heart Association:
“Sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950; physically active jobs now make up less than 20% of our workforce. In 1960, about half of the U.S. workforce was physically active. Our average workweek is longer. Full-time workers in the U.S. work about 47 hours working each week – that’s more than 350 extra hours worked each year.”
These statistics lead us to this question:
How much physical activity do contemporary jobs promote, anyway? And why is this so important?
Slow and steady: increasing brain power
Harvard psychiatrist and author of the best-selling book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. John Ratey, states that long-term regular exercise boosts a chemical called BDNF – a ‘Miracle-Gro’ for the brain. Essential for the development of new nerve connections and brain tissues in areas that are responsible for higher reasoning.
Slow and steady exercise routines also increase levels of ‘feel good’ chemicals such as serotonin to improve your mood and increase energy. So, mentioned ahead is a list of basic exercises that can potentially increase brain power, whether you’re 7 or 70.
6 Exercises that will Boost Your Brain
1) Brain training games
Many health professionals recommend sticking to brain training activities; exercises that strengthen brain function while offering novelty and challenge.
According to neuroscientist and Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, David Eagleman, almost any ‘silly’ suggestion can work.
“Drive home via a different route; brush your teeth with your opposite hand. The brain works through associations [which is why it’s easier to memorize lyrics to a song than it is to try and remember the same words without music], so the more senses you involve, the better.”
Simple games like Sudoku and crosswords, as well as comic strips in the morning newspaper where you have to find out differences between two very similar pictures, are great places to start from.
2) Squat your way through the mental fatigue
Squats may seem like a run-of-the-mill, mainstream exercise, but recent developments have incorporated an unusual twist to it. This upgraded version of squats has been found to significantly affect brain health, coming across as an incredibly useful workout to reduce brain fog or any mental dullness.
To get started, you need to stand with your feet pointing straight and set shoulder-width apart. Next, you need to grab your right earlobe with your left hand’s finger and thumb. Repeat the step for your left earlobe, lowering down into the squat position, breathing in and out as you stand back up. Continue the activity for as long as you can.
According to a renowned physician in Los Angeles, this simple but powerful exercise not only energizes the body but stimulates brain cells as well.
3) Jumping jacks
Usually performed as a warmup routine before starting tough exercise movements, jumping jacks are full of brain-boosting power and ability. By getting your blood to pump harder, they give your brain a dramatic energy boost which keeps it functioning without letting it wear out. They also improve your routine skills and help lessen long-term dementia.
To perform this exercise, all you need to do is stand tall with both hands by your side and feet positioned together. Now, raise your arms above your head and jump simultaneously, putting your feet on the sides and bringing both arms and feet to the starting posture. Keep moving back and forth between the jumping and standing position so that both your heart rate and body’s temperature goes up.
4) Neurobics – exercises that use all your senses
An internationally recognized neurobiologist and author of the famous 1998 book, ‘Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness‘, Dr. Lawrence Katz coined the phrased ‘Neurobics,’ describing brain activities that enhance brain performance by using all five senses in peculiarly novel ways.
Katz says that most exercises depend on sight. He believes that the key to keeping your brain exercised is to engage all the senses – hearing, sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch – in unpredictable ways. Any activity can be turned into a real brain activity as long as it’s new, fun, and challenging. In his book, Katz has highlighted 83 exercise forms in total. Few of the most interesting ones are:
If your right hand’s the most superior one, try using the left hand to do daily tasks like eating, brushing your teeth or using your computer mouse. The reason behind it is that using the non-dominant hand results in an increased brain activity; this can indeed be very difficult at first which is why it gives your brain a good workout.
Eating with chopsticks
Chopsticks force you to eat mindfully, which is good for your brain, calorie consumption, and digestion. If you’re already good at this, try using your non-dominant hand instead.
Doing chores with your eyes closed
Try doing things like washing your hair, taking a shower, or cleaning the dishes with your eyes closed; this will compel the brain to form new neural pathways. Obviously, don’t do anything with the eyes shut that might cause harm to you or other people.
5) Walking never gets old
When everything else fails or becomes hard to manage, walk it out. Walking is perhaps one of the most efficient exercises that give your body an overall boost. From your body to your toes, everything is impacted by only a few minutes of regular walking.
By establishing a correlation between physical and mental health, relevant research suggests that adults who take a stroll few times a week experience a great boost in their brainpower. It also reduces the risk of illnesses like Alzheimer’s that rob a person of their memory.
According to the outcome of a walking programme, those in the exercise group which involved themselves in physical activities did better on brain tests and had sharper memories than those who didn’t work out at all.
6) Yoga – food for soul
Yoga, a spiritual and ascetic discipline, is practiced worldwide for health benefits and relaxation. The activity involves certain meditation procedures and exercise postures that target specific body parts. In fact, according to research, regular practice of yoga helps improve brain vitality and boosts memory.
Yoga encompasses a range of movements that are targeted towards certain areas, but the one with the shoulder stand pumps blood to the brain the most, this pushes the brain cells, enhancing a person’s memory while also providing it with energy.
Incorporating yoga into your everyday routine can significantly improve brain function and also relieves mental stress and anxiety.
All in all
Many individuals resort to consuming brain-boosting foods and supplements such as herbs and vega protein for enhanced brain functioning. However, the exercises mentioned above are a sure shot towards giving energy to your brain. So, make sure to include these activities in your workout regime to reap maximum health benefits from your workout.
Kamil Riaz Kara is a Writer with a Masters in Administrative Sciences. He frequently blogs on technology, lifestyle and health.
Dai "Coach Moose" ManuelDai Manuel: Your Lifestyle MentorOctober 3, 2017