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Ask Dr. Nandi: What kinds of exercise are good for brain health?

Posted: 3:48 PM, Jun 03, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-07 15:00:42-04
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(WXYZ) — Leading a sedentary lifestyle can put you on the fast track to cognitive decline. So what kind of exercises are there that improve brain health?

Most of you are aware of the health benefits of running and cycling to improve the heart, lungs, bone and muscular strength. But did you know that exercise also benefits our brains as well? In recent years, there’s been a lot of research around this. And what’s been found is that exercise can increase brain volume, it can increase the number of blood vessels and nerve synapses and also help to keep those pathways connected longer and stronger. And this can then decrease age-related brain deterioration often seen in older folks and non-active people. So it’s really important for them to exercise since having a sharp mind is often a top priority. Yet studies have shown that approximately 20% of adults over 65 do not exercise routinely.

So what can be done? Well, getting movement and physical activity in your daily life should be a priority for every age. Research has shown that there are a variety of exercises that improve brain health. Any heart-pumping exercises such as running, dancing, swimming or skipping will do the trick. But also, less vigorous exercises such as yoga, tai-chi, low weight strength training and walking can also help brain health. I also have some prescriptions for you:

1. While there is no formal recommendation for brain health, you can get a good start by aiming for 30 minutes of varied physical activity 5 days a week.

2. Everyone has different needs and abilities, so tailor your exercise to suit you. And it’s always a good idea to talk with your health professional before you try anything new or particularly intense.

3. Sedentary people will need to start off slowly. And build up duration and intensity over time.

While exercise has proven benefits that help improve brain function, it is not the only piece of the puzzle. We can’t forget the importance of healthy eating, regular sleep and engaging the mind in challenging activities - these will all go a long way in keeping our mind sharp and healthy.

This week on The Dr. Nandi Show, it's time to make some friends! Why? Because despite the popularity of social media, many more Americans are saying they are lonelier than ever before. And this can harm your health! How? Find out by tuning in this Sunday, June 9th at 4 pm to hear Dr. Nandi and his experts discuss this serious and rising public health concern. And you’ll also learn how connecting and forming purposes can add to your overall lifespan.