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Boost Brain Function with These Easy Exercise Steps

Jan 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Denver

There’s conflicting evidence everywhere about what forms of exercise help your brain out the most. How do we know who to believe or what we should do?

Exercise and Brain Health

Long story short, the best form of exercise for your brain depends on your individual situation.

For example, if you have Parkinson’s disease, new research shows that an intense workout is actually the best method for managing symptoms.

In another example, if you do not have dementia but are worried about memory and cognitive health issues, getting in at least 4,000 steps a day can greatly benefit you.

The latter statement comes from a study that followed 26 adults, all over the age of 60, for 2 years. Each participant had complaints or concerns about their memory, but was not formally diagnosed with dementia. They were split into two groups, one a low physical activity group (less than 4,000 steps per day) and the other a high physical activity group (more than 4,000 steps a day).

Thickness vs. Volume

Using MRI scans, the thickness and volume of the hippocampus (the region of the brain involved in memory) were determined from the start.

This is a very important component of the study, as previously, only brain volume has been focused on. These researchers decided to focus on thickness as well, to see what ties it had with cognitive health and how it was influenced by exercise.

As it turns out, compared to the lower physical activity group, the higher group had thicker hippocampi, including thickness in other parts of the brain. They also had more efficient functioning (including memory), faster processing abilities, and better attention span. A thicker brain, they deduced, is therefore a healthier brain – and walking over 4,000 steps a day can help promote said thickness.

How You Can Get Those Steps In

At first glance, 4,000 steps sounds like a lot. If you’re mobile, though, you may be getting more steps in a day than you think.

Here are some ways to ensure you’re walking enough:

  • Get a pedometer. This little device counts how many steps you take a day so that you know where you’re at. Some also take into account flights of stairs you take, and on some there’s manual entry so you can enter how many miles you’ve done on, saw, a treadmill or elliptical machine. Pedometers range from the simplest little battery-powered clicker that attaches to your pants waistband, to an application (or app) on your cellphone that automatically tracks for you wherever you go.
  • Leave the house at least once every day. Being cooped up in your home makes it less likely that you’ll be walking around so much. Go run an errand everyday, or go walk around the block or local park to get some fresh air along with those steps.
  • Find a walking buddy. Whether it be your spouse, a friend, or your dog, walking with someone else makes it less of a chore and more of a fun time. This will be good for your buddy’s health, too.
  • Invest in a treadmill. Treadmills are a great piece of equipment to own, as they allow you to exercise in the comforts of your own home while being able to watch TV, be around family, and so forth.

Make sure to get those steps in for a healthier (and thicker) brain!

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