5 ways to enhance your brain health

Physical activity, combined with meditation, can do wonders

By Alisha Moopen

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Published: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 8:22 PM

While exercise keeps the body in shape, brain health is equally important because mind and body health cannot be separated. As research looks at the connection between the brain and body, and with several mental health conditions on the rise, it is important not to neglect brain health. And it turns out that exercise is a vital component. So, how does exercise impact your brain? Well, in a lot of ways, but here are five ways that enhance brain health:

1. Meditation as a form of brain exercise:

People have lost touch with nature because they have burdened themselves with information overload. Meditation helps in finding the gap between your thoughts and staying there. The benefits of meditation extend to the mind, just as the benefits of exercise extend to the body.

When you practise the two together, you’ll experience a greater positive shift in mind-body health. Meditation and exercise both help you sleep better, age slower, and maintain your cognition for longer, but keep in mind that one is not a replacement for the other.

2. Exercise boosts memory: Research has repeatedly shown that regular exercise helps process and retrieve short and long-term memories. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercises like brisk walking, cycling, or jogging can also greatly impact the brain.

Studies have found that yoga not only calms your nervous system, but certain yoga poses can also reduce muscle tension by releasing endorphins in your brain that relieve stress. Whatever type of exercise you choose, science suggests it will have a positive impact on your brain's health.

3. Exercise improves cognitive functions: Physical exercise and mindfulness improve multiple mental abilities such as learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, decision-making, and attention.

Science has repeatedly drawn a link between higher levels of physical activity and better cognitive function. And it doesn’t take long to see results. Studies have proven that even short, 10-minute bouts of exercise are enough to enhance brain function in older adults.

4. Exercise can help you sleep better: A good seven hours of sleep is vital for brain function. Without sleep, your brain struggles with memory and decision-making and you can feel moody and irritable.

Also, it can be very hard to function properly after a poor night’s sleep. One way to improve the Circadian rhythm is to exercise regularly and improve your sleep patterns.

5. Exercise reduces stress: In this fast-paced world, we are so wired that we are constantly tired, which is one cause of stress. While some stress makes you competitive, prolonged stress can have serious consequences for your health.

Physical activity can help to reduce the levels of stress hormones (like cortisol and adrenaline) in your body, while breathing exercises such as the 4-7-8 method help quiet the mind, thereby relieving stress. Count to four and breathe in, then hold your breath until the count of seven, and exhale while counting to eight, and see how soon you are relieved of stress.

Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity every week. They also say that mixing up your intensity might be a good idea because it might stimulate different areas of your brain. Ultimately, the best exercise is the one that you enjoy! Find something that makes you feel good, and do that to keep your brain and body healthy.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com

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