Memory improvement: Exercise keeps your mind sharp - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Memory improvement: Exercise keeps your mind sharp

Stop searching for that secret supplement or magic pill that promises memory improvement as you age. Studies show that one of the best things you can
do for memory improvement is physical exercise. In case you needed one more reason to get off the couch, researchers have found that exercise can increase your brainpower, help put off normal aging-related memory loss and, perhaps, even prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

It's long been known that exercise is good for your heart. But now it seems that what's good for your body is also good for your brain. Exercise increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. And exercise seems to slow the loss of brain tissue that typically begins in your 40s.

Even small amounts of exercise can help you stay mentally sharp. And exercise is most beneficial for memory improvement when it's done regularly - at least three times each week.

Your ultimate goal should be to exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week, as this is best for your heart. Several studies have found 30-minute exercise sessions are beneficial for your brain, too.

If you're just getting started, don't worry about the time. One study found 15-minute exercise sessions a few times each week reduced older adults' risk of dementia. The benefit was greatest to those participants who hadn't exercised previously. So if you're reluctant to exercise, remember that it won't take a great time commitment to reap the rewards. Break up your exercise sessions throughout the day, for instance into 10-minute periods of activity. Once you get going, you may find that adding more exercise time brings even more benefits for your health.

Studies haven't focused on what exercise is best for memory improvement. What the research shows, though, is that you don't have to wear yourself out to benefit from exercise. Many studies have found that simply walking regularly can help your brain.

Some evidence suggests that strength training may work with aerobic exercise to offer further benefits. Strength training may stimulate your body to produce a natural hormone that protects your brain cells. Add some strengthening exercises to your routine. Lift weights or use your own body weight to build muscle by doing exercises such as deep knee bends and push-ups.

If you aren't currently active, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. He or she can recommend types of exercise that may be safe for you.

Excerpted from MayoClinic.Com. For complete article, click www.mayoclinic.com/health/memory-improvement/HA00085

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