BRAIN GAMES - CAN YOU TRAIN YOUR BRAIN?
Studies have shown that hitting the books isn’t the only way to improve your noggin. According to Mind Body Health, you can help your brain health by hitting the gym. In research cited by Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, intense bursts of activity are good for your brain’s cognitive function. A study group made up of participants over the age of 60 did a 12-week trial of exercise. The scientists then looked at each person’s new neurons, which help to create memories. Those who did stretching, or moderate exercise did not see much improvement, however, the people who carried out high-intensity exercise saw their memory function improve by 30%.
Harvard Health backs this theory up. According to a study done at the University of British Columbia, a good old fashioned sweat induced cardio session can increase the size of the hippocampus, which the section of your brain that helps memory and ability to learn facts. What’s more, Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School, says that six months of a continuous exercise routine can increase the volume of brain regions. It has also been shown to improve the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex, which boosts memory and reasoning skills.
How does a (brisk) walk in the park help you finish that crossword puzzle faster? Time Magazine states that by speeding up your heartbeat for 45 minutes to an hour, you pump more blood flow to the brain, delivering much-needed oxygen. In addition, a study out of New Mexico Highlands University found that when walking, the impact of the participants’ feet hitting the ground sent waves through the arteries, to the brain. A hearty workout also improves the BDNF, a.k.a the brain-derived neurotrophic factor which repairs the brain cells, as well as promotes the growth of new ones.
While running and swimming top the list as the best ways to sweat your way smarter, according to Time, as long as you are getting your heart rate up there are lots of other types of exercise that will help you have a fit mind. According to Men’s Health magazine, there are light leisure sports that can help boost your brainpower as well. Daniel Amen, a brain order specialist and psychiatrist, highly recommends ping pong for a brain sport. Not only will a competitive game burn off some calories, but it will raise the number of neurons your body makes as well. Table tennis also increases blood flow to the brain, which is important because low blood flow can be an indicator of problems like Alzheimer’s disease.
Though it isn’t always considered cardio, strength training is thought to be a brain boost by some. Men’s Health reports that author Dr. Steven Masley’s study found that when people increased their training reps by 10%, their cognitive function test scores improved by almost 20%. If you find it hard to carve out a chunk of time to train your brain, you may be in luck. According to the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal, a study showed that HIIT training was more effective than continuous exercise in older adults. So even a quick burst of hard work can help.
Yoga isn’t always thought of as a heart-pounding aerobic workout, but some forms can be a fast-paced sweat-inducing routine. According to Bustle, not only did a study find that it helped to reduce stress, but it also helped the mind pay better attention and improve overall cognitive function. These results were higher for older participants who kept with their routine for at least six months.
Staying alert and paying attention were cognitive functions that saw great improvements with exercise for many people. Though some try to supplement. While pick-me-ups like caffeine and sugar can make you alert, they also will make you crash eventually. SFH’s Super Omega Fish Oil can help build the grey matter in your brain, over some time. Looking for a way to add to your brainpower workout immediately without depleting your system? Try a scoop of SFH’s REVIVE. This non-stimulant energy drink contains Carnitine, which transports fatty acids to the mitochondria which are used to produce energy. This improves your alertness and overall brain health, which is clearly a smart choice.