Improve your brain function by exercising your heart and muscles

March 11, 2019

Humans are designed to move — your body actually really likes it. We might not always feel like getting our training shoes on to get some exercise, but it is essential to your well-being. In fact, exercising regularly is one of the most important factors in maintaining good health. And we’re not just talking about your physical fitness. It turns out that being active has positive effects on your mental health as well. That explains why you feel better after a walk or a good workout. Your mood might be lifted, and you might notice improvements in your attention and memory as well.

Can being active help stroke patients improve attention and memory?

Researchers from Canada reviewed several scientific studies to see how exercise affects brain functions. What they found is that regular activity after a stroke improves cognitive functions. But what type of training yields the best results?

There are two broad exercise categories — aerobic and strength. Aerobic exercises are those that make your heart rate go up. They include things that you do for an extended amount of time like walking, swimming, and biking. Strength exercises are those where you train specific muscle groups with a limited amount of repetitions until you start to feel fatigued.

Most people already know that aerobic exercise is important, but they often overlook strength training. And when it comes to strength training, you need to put a bit of effort into it. You’ll get better results from lifting something heavy just a few times than something light more times. You should aim to train with an amount that is heavy enough that you feel tired after 5-10 repetitions. For some people that means only using your body weight, and for others, it means adding some free weights.

Exercising to improve brain function

Studies show that you’ll reap the greatest benefits from combining aerobic activity and strength training. Mixing both improves your thinking skills, attention, and memory.

Strokemark is about to launch an app that offers programs designed to improve walking, arm and hand function, and cognition. Each course is carefully planned using the principal of combining different types of exercises. You’ll get your heart beating, feel your muscles burning, and notice improvements in your mental well-being. Sign up for our app and let us know how our challenges and exercises have helped you improve your cognitive function.

 

The lead author of this original article is Alyssa Brunt from the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Editorial note:

Studies show that a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training improves cognitive function. All the more reason to get moving!

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