What Kind of Exercise Is Good for the Brain and Mental Health?
Exercising is good for the body, and especially the brain, which is one of the most complex organs in the human body, but which type of exercise is especially good for the brain?
In order to answer this question, try running or jogging for 45 minutes non-stop, and put your hand on your chest to feel the beat of your heart; is it faster now? That’s what’s known as aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercise, or cardio, is a low to high intensity type of exercise that relies primarily on aerobic energy generation. Aerobic means relating to, involving or requiring oxygen. We can define it as the use of oxygen to meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. In other words, it is a type of exercise that involves pumping oxygenated blood from the heart to deliver oxygen to working muscles and also the brain.
Aerobic exercises do not only consist of running. Other examples are walking, climbing, swimming, hiking, dancing, kickboxing, or performing an aerobic strength circuit (squats, lunges, push-ups, glute bridges, etc.).
Aside from providing oxygen to the brain, aerobic exercises (aerobic exercises) encourage the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus – one of the parts of the brain that is responsible for forming and storing memories. Additionally, they increase heart muscle size and strengthen it to increase pumping efficiency and reduce resting heart rate (aerobic conditioning). Also, they increase circulation efficiency, increase the number of red blood cells in the body, and improve mental health (reduce stress and lower depression). Aerobic exercise also reduces diabetes risk and death related to cardiovascular problems.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, is another form of exercise that benefits the brain. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just for bodybuilders. Lifting weights or using a resistance band not only strengthens your muscles and bones, but it can also boost your brainpower, improve your mood, improve your concentration, and increase your decision-making abilities.
Additionally, weight lifting promotes healthy posture, improves sleep, builds bone density, maintains weight loss, boosts metabolism, lowers inflammation, and staves off chronic disease, among others.
Other forms of exercise that are beneficial for the brain include yoga, Tai chi, and even a blend of both. It has numerous health benefits including increasing overall intelligence, decreasing stress, reducing pain, improving self-awareness, improving information processing, improving flexibility as well as strength, improving balance, and more.
Nevertheless, no matter which exercise you do, all of it will help the aging brain. Whether it’s aerobic exercise, strength training, or yoga, your brain and body would certainly benefit. Rather than the mode of the exercise or even if it is a combination of two or even the three, it is better to focus more on the duration of time spent doing it.
The most important factor is your preference; which is more appealing to you: aerobic exercises, weight training or yoga? Exercise has a great deal of benefits, especially for the brain, as compared to not exercising at all.