There are numerous reasons to insert more movement into our daily lives. While many of these reasons relate to improved physical capacity, exercise has become increasingly linked to better cognitive function. Is it time to put the whole “meathead” idea to rest?
Not necessarily. Those who exercise actually do have meatier heads or, more specifically, brains. Exercise increases the number of brain cells in the hippocampus, known as the memory center of the brain. Those who are more physically oriented may actually, whether conscious of it or not, continually increase their cognitive capacity.
Though multitasking does not always behoove us, it might make sense to double up in the case of the hippocampus. If exercise spurs the brain to create new cells and learning new things helps them become permanent additions, wouldn’t it be interesting to try both at the same time?
The following are a few ideas to gain some mass (in your hippocampus, that is…..):
-Build Your Brain With Balance: Stability is preferable in many areas (relationships, finances, the foundation of the house you live in…) but you may want to get off-kilter with your exercise. Choose forms that challenge your balance in a safe way to maximize benefit and minimize risk. Yoga and Tai Chi are great options, but even standing on one foot while brushing your teeth could do. Bonus: you may even increase spatial cognition.
-Be a Dancing Hippo(campus): What better exercise is there than dance to help you work up a sweat and use your memory? Freestyle is fun, but to get the more brain-boosting benefits try a class that keeps you focused on picking up new choreography. Might as well cop moves like Justin Timberlake and get a mind like Einstein….
-Age Gracefully with Agility: My clients know my love for speed ladder drills all too well. Though they work wonders on a tennis game, agility exercises can up your mental game as well. Anyone who had ever seen a border collie get distracted while running through an agility course knows these exercises require extreme focus.
For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!