How to Combine Cognitive Function and Exercise to Improve Your Brain Power
Exercise is good for the heart, bones, and muscles. Did you know it’s also good for the brain? Recent studies present exercise as a key player in preserving brain function as we age. Fit body, sharp mind – what better combination!
There are different ways to aid and improve cognitive ability.
One way is combining the powerful effects of various exercises and movement to advance brain function on many levels. Modified training processes are provided for those with physical disorders.
This is something I have been working on extensively within my own coaching practice, especially when educating and training those over 50 towards active ageing. Since joining my classes, many participants have noticed overall improvements including learning, memory, and attention span.
Among others, we have utilised the power of boxing drills to help with cognitive ability.
What Is Cognitive Function?
Cognitive function is a mental process allowing us to carry out tasks as in, receiving, storing retrieving, and processing information from the outside world.
Cognitive functions include memory, perception, decision-making, problem-solving, attention span, and language. Each one works to help you process information.
Why Is Cognitive Function Important?
As we age, our normal brain function may start to decline. This can occur from as early as the mid-40s. Whoops! Parked the car at a busy shopping outlet and forgotten where you parked? Or put the milk in the pantry again?
Finding ways of keeping cognitive faculties in tip top condition is vital at any age. And the best part of that is we can begin to see improvements at any age with consistent work.
How Can Exercise and Movement Help Maintain Mental Fitness?
For one, exercise and movement send oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain. They also stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old neural connections and make new ones.
Additionally, they increase brain structure that is important to memory and learning. And finally, they help integrate the left and right hemispheres to connect and coordinate.
What Sort of Exercise Can Help?
There are so many different ways you can give your brain and body a workout at the same time. Take a look at the short video showing several ways you can easily add this form of training into your life.
Other ways to incorporate this form of exercise:
Trail walking, hiking, or exploring new terrain all use navigational skills that boost brain plasticity and help in the formation of functional brain pathways. These activities are classified as technically difficult due to the different gradients and terrain under foot which also uses brain power.
Ball sports require different skills and cognitive ability where you need to think and act quickly.
How Often Should You Perform These Exercises?
American health guidelines suggest 150 min minimum a week of moderate intensity exercise (slightly out of breath, can still hold a conversation) or 75 min a week of vigorous intensity exercise (cannot hold a conversation) or a combination of both.
Combining the form of brain and body exercise shown in the video above would be considered as moderate and would count towards the above 150 min total. It’s highly beneficial to add 20 minutes of this form of exercise twice weekly after your morning walk.
If you are unsure of where to begin, are lacking in body confidence, or feel overwhelmed with the whole idea of exercise and fitness, register here for my FREE Women Breaking Barriers online workshop.
How do you combine exercise and brain power to help with cognitive function? Do you need some support with fitness and health? What do you find most difficult in coordinating physical and mental activities? Please share in the comments below.