Brain Health and Exercise

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com
Laguna Woods, California
February 12, 2018 1:10pm CST
In addition to eating a diet which is heavy in fruits and vegetables and light in red meat and animal fats, which I discussed in a recent post, another way to take care of our brain is to get regular exercise. There are two reasons why exercise is so important for the brain: 1. Anything which helps your heart and cardiovascular system is good for your brain. Your brain needs access to a steady flow of fresh blood to operate properly, and exercise helps keeps your arteries open and operating properly. Exercise can reduce your risk of a stroke. Research by the Mayo Clinic also showed that even people who have already been diagnosed with mild dementia or cognitive impairment can improve their cognitive scores after six to twelve months of exercise. 2. The other reason exercise is important to the brain is because staying strong is the best way to reduce your risk of falling. Falls are the LEADING cause of death and disability in people over the age of 65. Not only can falls cause broken hips and other bones, but a cracked skull or concussion could do serious damage to your brain's function, especially as you age. What types of exercise are best? A wide variety. Aerobic exercise is good for your heart and brain, improves cognitive function, and reduces your risk of a stroke. Strength building exercises reduce your risk of falling. Flexibility training, such as you get with yoga or a stretch class, helps to keep your veins and articles flexible and can improve your sense of balance. Other balance exercises, such as tai chi, can also reduce your risk of falling. It also appears to be good for your brain to practice tossing or bouncing a ball. We can lose our spatial ability as we age and can have difficulty judging how hard or far to throw a ball to another person, which has implications in other parts of our life, such as driving or walking. Tossing a large rubber ball to another person is a good way to maintain our spatial awareness. Fun types of movement, such as playing tennis or dancing, can combine many other types of exercise, including aerobic, flexibility, balance and strength. You may even try just walking in funny ways ... spreading your feet further apart than normal, walking sideways or backwards, walking on a straight line, and walking on your heels or toes. The bottom line is to get out of that chair and get moving, if you want to maintain your brain health as you age! (This is part of a series of articles I am sharing, based on a brain health class I am taking from a local college.)
12 people like this
13 responses
@1hopefulman (30139)
• Canada
12 Feb
Good reminder for me to keep up with my routine of doing some exercises every day.
2 people like this
• Laguna Woods, California
12 Feb
@1hopefulman - I'm glad you have exercise as part of your daily routine. It is great for you!
1 person likes this
@1hopefulman (30139)
• Canada
13 Feb
@DeborahDiane It's easy to get lazy. I have to keep pushing.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@1hopefulman - I agree. It is so easy to think of reasons why I have other things to do, rather than exercise. Taking this brain exercise class is certainly an encouragement to keep it up!
1 person likes this
@just4him (120559)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
13 Feb
I can see how all that would greatly help you physically and mentally.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@just4him - Yes, these activities can make our lives much better. I know from your posts that you like to swim and that is great in a number of ways ... aerobics, strength training, and flexibility. Great choice!
1 person likes this
@just4him (120559)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
15 Feb
@DeborahDiane I'm only swimming, not doing aerobics or strength training. Thank you.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
15 Feb
@just4him - Keep up the swimming! It is considered an aerobic exercise and can also help with maintaining your strength. It is certainly good for you!
1 person likes this
@Plethos (10310)
• United States
12 Feb
Who knew, something as simple as bouncing a ball could help.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
12 Feb
@Plethos - I agree! That was the one exercise which surprised me. I plan to go to the Dollar Store this week and buy a bouncy ball. They say it is really good for your brain. Who knew?
1 person likes this
@Plethos (10310)
• United States
12 Feb
@DeborahDiane - i guess the times igo shooting a basketball really does come in handy.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@Plethos - Yes! In fact, playing basketball was one of the activities they suggested, along with tennis, etc. It's important for our brains to retain the ability to know where we are in relationship to other people and objects, and playing with a ball is one way to maintain that ability.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
23 Feb
wow! thanks for this so helpful article.. now im thinking to do this before it's too late.. hayzt!
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
24 Feb
Yes, the sooner you start, the more likely you will have good brain health in the future.
• Philippines
24 Feb
@DeborahDiane im crossing my fingers on that...thanks again..
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
25 Feb
@Betxie1221 - I think we are all crossing our fingers that this works! LOL
13 Feb
I would add yoga in the list. Yoga is a good exercise for us, especially when we are getting old and not are into demanding exercises. I would love to do yoga again like I used to.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@mixgreen - I agree! I love my yoga class. I listed it under flexibility training, which is very important for a number of reasons.
1 person likes this
14 Feb
@DeborahDiane - Oh, of course, sorry I missed it. I have tried Tai Chi as well, and that's great. Yoga and Tai Chi are complementary, as both nurture your body in different ways.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
14 Feb
@mixgreen - I agree! Yoga and Tai Chi are very complementary forms of exercise. We should all do everything we can to keep moving!
• Eugene, Oregon
13 Feb
Studies have show that table tennis is a really good way to keep the brain active and the exercise is great too. These posts are interesting and informative.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@James Hxstatic - I'm glad you are enjoying these posts. I have also heard that table tennis is an excellent way to keep our brain active. We have a large table tennis group in our community. Maybe I should join them!
1 person likes this
• Eugene, Oregon
14 Feb
@DeborahDiane it is great exercise for sure. We have a pretty competitive mixed group with a range of skill. I have played three years now.
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• Laguna Woods, California
15 Feb
@JamesHxstatic - I remember when we were on the "other site," and you and Ann moved to your new retirement community. It sounds like it was a good decision.
@db20747 (8484)
• Washington, District Of Columbia
13 Feb
If this site might help anyone u know who has Alzheimer's or dementia I would be glad. It has scores of info on treatments and vitamins and more that have helped people with alz retain mental health. My website is healthnow.weebly.com
1 person likes this
@houda28 (381)
• Tunisia
13 Feb
Your useful tips have helped me control my hypertension. Keep up !
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@db20747 - Thanks! I hope some people check it out!
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@houda28 - Yes, hypertension is also helped by many of these brain health tips.
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@JudyEv (126361)
• Bunbury, Australia
12 Feb
Thanks for these tips. I've just started tai chi so that's one step in the right direction.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
12 Feb
@JudyEv - Yes, tai chi is an excellent exercise program ... great for strength, agility, balance and, after half and hour, I've found it to be pretty aerobic, too! Good for you!
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@JudyEv (126361)
• Bunbury, Australia
13 Feb
@eatmelon I don't really know if it is or not.
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• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@eatmelon - Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art and form of stylized exercises consisting of circular and stretching movements. As far as I know, it is not intended to be used in fighting, like Kung Fu, but it could be a way of developing the muscles necessary to do a good job in Kung Fu.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
13 Feb
yes sitting for a long time is not healthy anymore other than getting an active lifestyle like walking and moving always
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@Strawberry18 - I agree! People need to move as much as possible during the day!
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• Philippines
14 Feb
@DeborahDiane correct have a nice day
1 person likes this
• Nigeria
13 Feb
Nice article!!
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
13 Feb
@Gibor24 - Thank you!
@JohnRoberts (60125)
• Los Angeles, California
12 Feb
I often just walk around the living room while watching TV.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
12 Feb
@JohnRoberts - Hey, I've been known to do that, too, especially on rainy days. I think any activity is better than just sitting and watching TV.
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@Daelii (5718)
• United States
12 Feb
Awesome to know all that! Thank you for sharing.
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
12 Feb
@Daelii - I'm so glad to be sharing this information, because I think it is something we all want to know about!
1 person likes this
@1creekgirl (10657)
• United States
12 Feb
Lots of great advice, thanks!
1 person likes this
• Laguna Woods, California
12 Feb
@1creekgirl - I'm happy to be sharing this. I'm amazed by all the good information I am getting from this class.
1 person likes this