When we think about exercise, we often think about its physical benefits – stronger muscles, increased flexibility, better stability and more. But did you know that exercise can also positively affect your brain’s health? Keeping your body and brain healthy with exercise is essential to healthy aging.
Did you know that declining cognitive function—like memory, attention, awareness, reasoning, and judgment—is the leading cause of disability and death in older adults? The good news is that there are ways to improve it by taking advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is simply the brain’s ability to change and make new connections.
Research studies have found that physical activity, such as aerobic exercise and resistance training, can improve cognitive function in men and women over 50. The improvement may be seen regardless of whether the individual is already mildly cognitively impaired. In terms of duration and frequency, those who exercise at or above moderate intensity for 45-60 minutes may see 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 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 have found that the most significant benefit to executive function can occur when cognitive-based training is done three or more times per week for 24 sessions or more. In contrast, training for eight weeks or more can improve attention.
Combining physical and cognitive exercises can help 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 e-learning module.