When we think about exercise, we often think about the physical benefits it provides – stronger muscles, increased flexibility, better stability and more. But did you know, exercise can also have positive effects on your brain health? Keeping both your body and brain healthy with exercise is an important part of healthy aging. And while the pandemic has made it more challenging to exercise, there are still creative ways to move safely and do both your body and your brain some good!
Did you know, declining cognitive function—things like memory, attention, awareness, reasoning, and judgement—is the leading cause of disability and death in older adults? The good news is, there are ways to improve it by taking advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity, which put simply is the brain’s ability to change and make new connections.
Research studies have found that physical activity, such as aerobics or resistance training have improved cognitive function in men and women over the age of 50. The improvement was seen regardless of whether the individual was already mildly impaired or not. In terms of duration and frequency, those who exercised at or above moderate intensity for 45-60 minute saw the most benefit. These exercises can be done at home using videos to guide you. For resistance training, simple things you can find in your home, such as soup cans, can double as weights. It’s never too late to make a change and safely incorporate exercise into your weekly routine!
Exercising your brain can also involve cognitive-based training such as learning therapies and computerized training that can improve cognitive function in older adults. Research studies found that the greatest benefit to executive function occurred when cognitive-based training was done three or more times per week for 24 sessions or more, while training for eight weeks or more resulted in improvement to attention. During the pandemic, many of these therapies and activities can be done virtually from the comfort of your home.
Combining physical and cognitive exercises can help you keep your brain healthy as you age. To learn more about how you can combine the two to improve cognitive function, read through our resources below and try our new e-learning module.