Exercising the Mind and Body: How Physical Activity Promotes Brain Health

Posted by Origin Active Lifestyle Communities on June 01, 2021 | 4 minute read

Origin_Brain Health

You may have heard of the mind-body connection, but what does it entail? This powerful connection is often referenced from the negative perspective: when our minds feel stressed and worried, we notice consequences in our bodies, and if we don’t treat our bodies well physically, we will feel the effects on our mental health. 

We want to highlight that the same is true from a positive standpoint as well. When we feel good on the inside, it will reflect on the outside, and when we treat our bodies right on the outside, we will feel it inside! One of these connections is the link between physical activity and brain health. Just like you can train and shape the muscles of your body, you can do the same for your brain! 

Origin Active Lifestyle Communities is proud to have active senior living communities throughout Alberta and British Columbia. We know how vital physical exercise is to not only the body but to the mind. 

We’re taking a look at the connection between physical activity and brain health and how you can incorporate more into your life! 

How the Connection Works 

Several physiological responses play a role in strengthening brain health during physical activity. Physical exercise, whether it’s aerobic (such as walking or swimming), or anaerobic (such as weight training), increases blood flow to the brain, which carries oxygen and other nutrients that promote brain health and even create new brain cells. 

Also, physical activity encourages neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt, develop, and grow. Neuroplasticity allows the brain to form new connections, resulting in improved memory, increased attention, and enhanced overall cognitive functioning. 

With all the strengthened connections and cognitive functions, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that regular physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Making the Most of Your Activity 

While virtually any exercise is valuable for brain health, there are a few changes you can incorporate into your workout routine that can enhance your cognitive functions and keep your brain even healthier. Here are some ideas! 

Start Small 

If you want to gain the brain benefits of exercise but don’t have a regular routine, it can feel intimidating to start. The best thing you can do is start small with something you’re comfortable doing. Any activity that gets your heart pumping can benefit your brain, including something as simple as walking. Try to incorporate a brisk, 30-minute walk into your daily routine and go from there. 

Exercise with Friends 

Just as exercising is good for your brain health, so is socializing with others! To make the exercise even more valuable (not to mention fun), try going on a bike ride or attend a fitness class with a friend. Not only will this give you a chance to build relationships with others, but it can give you more motivation to exercise! 

Mix Physical and Mental Activity 

One of the most effective ways to get the most cognitive benefits out of exercise is to find an activity that requires both mental and physical stimulation. To get a comprehensive, full-body workout, try activities like dancing, tennis, Tai Chi, or simply switching up your regular running or cycling route. 

Try Circuits 

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and beneficial exercise that you can do from just about anywhere, try circuits! This type of training consists of completing different aerobic and resistance exercises in a circuit on repeat. They are highly effective because they get your heart rate up and also require concentration and focus. Check out some of these exercises you can add to your circuit training! 

Have Fun 

Exercising can feel a lot less like a chore and more like a fun hobby when you do something you love! Whether it’s hiking, swimming, karate, or yoga, finding an activity that you genuinely enjoy will help you stick with it. 

Train Your Brain With Active Living

Origin Active Lifestyle Communities knows the importance of physical activity, whether it’s for physical and mental wellness, brain health, or just for fun! We promote an all-encompassing wellness experience in our active senior living communities, offering community members daily opportunities for exercise, socialization, and nourishing dining

To discover more about the Origin Way, visit our website!

Topics: Active Aging, Health and Wellness