Exercise for Brain Health
Physical activity is a valuable part of any overall body wellness plan and is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline.
Many recent studies have linked regular physical activity with benefits for the brain. In fact, exercise has been linked to stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones that are vital to cognitive health, as well as increasing the size of a brain structure important to memory and learning and improving spatial memory.
Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, is thought to be more beneficial to cognitive health than non-aerobic stretching and toning exercise. Research is ongoing, but aiming to move for about 30 minutes on most days is shown to have many benefits.
If it’s safe for your patients, encourage them to engage in cardiovascular exercise to elevate their heart rate. This will increase the blood flow to the brain and body, providing additional nourishment while reducing potential dementia risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Encourage physical activities that may also be mentally or socially engaging, such as walking with a friend, taking a dance class, joining an exercise group or golfing. Incorporating activities your patients enjoy will help them stick with an exercise program. Activities can be as simple as bike riding, gardening or walking the dog.