10 specific and intelligent exercises to boost memory

You already know that exercise promotes health, but you may not know that exercising your mind is so important to keeping your brain in tip-top shape.

We know that regular physical exercise is important, especially as we age and want to reduce the risk of developing diseases and other health problems associated with aging. For example, strength training can help build muscle and increase bone density, balance exercises can help prevent falls, and regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise can help maintain range of motion to keep you flexible.

Likewise, your brain’s cognitive reserve—its ability to resist neurological damage from aging and other factors without showing signs of memory slowdown or loss—can also benefit from exercise, both physically and cognitively. . In the same way that weight training adds lean muscle to your body and helps you retain muscle into old age, following a brain-healthy lifestyle and regularly engaging in specific intellectual exercises can help increase your cognitive reserve. brain, although more research is needed to confirm the effects.

A Whole Body Approach to a Healthy Brain

What types of exercises can benefit your brain? Research suggests that when it comes to keeping your mind sharp, exercising your mind and body and maintaining healthy habits is the perfect formula.

The authors of a study published in July 2019 in The Journal of the American Medical Association followed about 196,400 participants aged 60 and older who did not have cognitive impairment or dementia when they joined the study for eight years. They collected data on the participants’ lifestyle habits, such as current smoking, regular physical activity, healthy diet and alcohol consumption. Ultimately, the researchers found that a healthy lifestyle was associated with a lower risk of dementia in the participants, independent of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Another study, published in Neurology in July 2020, found that people who adopt various healthy behaviors significantly reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Over approximately six years, the study tracked five healthy lifestyle behaviors — not smoking, regular physical activity, low-to-moderate alcohol consumption, adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet, and participation in activities that improve cognitive skills — in nearly 2,800 adults and found that those who engaged in four or more of these behaviors were 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to a good diet, regular exercise can promote vascular health to help protect brain tissue. It is also essential to avoid routine and boredom. The brain always wants to learn new things. Some researchers believe that people are more vulnerable to dementia when they pay less attention to things around them. When the brain is passive, it tends to atrophy. Therefore, sedentary and relatively passive activities, such as sitting in front of a television for hours a day, can harm brain health over time.

And a small study published in July 2019 in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society found that a single moderate-intensity training session immediately before a cognitive task resulted in greater brain activation. The researchers measured the brain activity of 26 healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 85 on two separate days. One day, they asked the participants to rest for 30 minutes before identifying famous and non-famous names.

On another day, they asked participants to pedal a stationary bike for 30 minutes before doing the same activity. The result: brain activation was significantly higher after exercise. This finding led researchers to conclude that exercise can immediately alter how our brain works, adding to existing scientific evidence that physical activity helps boost brain function and memory.

10 brain exercises to boost memory and cognitive function

In addition to following the healthy lifestyle habits mentioned above, you can also keep your mind and memory sharp with exercises to train your brain. And you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Although there are a host of games and computer applications that promise to improve cognitive function, no definitive study shows that these products have significant neurological benefits for the elderly. A meta-analysis of eight clinical trials published in February 2020 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that while computer-based cognitive training was associated with small short-term cognitive benefits, there is not enough high-quality research to support the use of mind games to prevent dementia or improve long-term cognitive function.

Instead, health experts recommend sticking to brain training that involves real-world activities. Exercises intended to strengthen brain function should offer novelty and challenge. He returns home taking another route. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand. The brain works by associations, so it is easier to memorize song lyrics than trying to remember the same words without music, so the more meaning involved, the better.

Your morning paper is a great starting point. Simple games like Sudoku and word games are good, as are comics where you find different things from picture to picture. In addition to puns, the following exercises to sharpen your mental skills.

test your memory

Make a list

Shopping, things to do or whatever comes to mind and memorize it. An hour later, see how many items you can remember. Make the list as challenging as possible for better mental stimulation. An earlier small study suggested that writing and organizing lists helped older people remember lists of words more effectively.

Play music

Learn to play a musical instrument or join a choir. Learning new and complex skills is good for the aging brain. A study published in The Gerontologist suggests that musical activities (such as playing a musical instrument, singing in a choir, or taking piano lessons) hold particular promise for healthy brain aging, although research is limited.

do math in your head

Solve problems without using pencil, paper, or a computer. A small study, published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology in 2021, suggests that solving math problems has a positive effect on participants’ cognition. You can make this exercise more challenging and athletic by walking at the same time.

take a cooking class

Learn to cook a new cuisine. Cooking involves several senses: smell, touch, sight and taste, which involve different parts of the brain. In addition, you will use cognitive skills such as meal planning, problem solving, writing a shopping list, multitasking, and organization.

learn a foreign language

Listening and hearing involved in learning a new language stimulate the brain. Furthermore, being bilingual was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia in a meta-analysis published in October 2020 in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Create word pictures.

Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try to think of other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.

draw a memory map

On your way home after visiting a new place, try drawing a map of the area. Repeat this exercise every time you go to a new place. An earlier study of London taxi drivers (who need to memorize the complex city map) found that drivers who successfully memorized the city map showed permanent changes in brain structure and improved cognitive function.

Challenge your taste buds

As you eat, try to identify the different ingredients in your food, including subtle herbs and spices.

Refine your hand-eye coordination

Take up a new hobby that uses fine motor skills and can help you maintain good hand-eye coordination. It can be racket sports, tai chi, knitting, drawing, painting, or playing video games.

learn a new sport

Start exercising. A review published in Frontiers in Psychology in December 2019 noted that increasing balance, strength, and aerobic capacity, which is your body’s ability to use oxygen for energy, can help protect your brain as you age. Specifically, yoga, karate, golf, or tennis improve brain health, while Harvard Health Publishing recommends swimming for its brain benefits.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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