After an intense workout, you probably feel satisfied knowing you burned a ton of calories, got your heart pumping and built up some muscle. However, did you know that working out likely made your brain function better, too? A growing body of evidence shows that exercise can seriously boost cognitive abilities like memory, logic and reasoning in people of all ages. There are certain exercises you can do to get the best brain benefits.
Cardio. Whether you love running, biking or some other type of aerobic exercise, a cardiovascular workout can help your brain buzz because it requires a long, constant effort. This is believed to be able to improve your ability to carry out multiple tasks for a long period of time, and stick to plans and goals. All good for the brain!
Plus, when you get your heart pumping, you are increasing blood flow to the brain, which reverses the effects of normal aging – shrinking brain cells and diminished communication among cells. Just walking 30 minutes three times a week can have positive effects on your brain function.
Strength training. What do you think about when you are pumping iron? More likely than not, you are entirely focused on the challenge at hand. The focus that strength training requires – focusing on your breathing, form and other aspects – is also flexing your brain muscle. This makes you better able to focus and block out distractions in other aspects of your life.
Your favorite sport. If you love swimming, you will probably engage in it more often or more regularly than another type of exercise. The same goes for any of your favorite physical activities. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that long-term physical activity is associated with better brain function in women and less cognitive decline. Whether your activity of choice is dancing, yoga, running or something else, if you love it, you are more likely to stick to it. Do what you love!