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Exercise Helps Boost Brain Power

No matter your age, you can positively impact brain health by adding some daily exercise.

According to Argye Hillis, M.D., director of the cerebrovascular division at Johns Hopkins Medicine, “It’s time to take charge and not let your age stop you, because there’s surprisingly not that much difference between an 18-year-old brain and a 100-year-old brain” when it comes to creating healthy habits.

Exercise can help prevent dementia and other cognitive changes because it reduces stress chemicals, like cortisol, and enhances your ability to focus and problem solve.  It also lowers your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  All exercise—gardening, a daily walk, swimming—can have a positive impact on long term health.

That’s good news for brain health because what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain!

Add more physical activity

Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Start slowly, gradually increasing exercise to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity. The more you build exercise into your day, the greater the benefits to your cognitive function.

Add cardio to increase brain’s oxygen

Get your heart pumping and improve your endurance with cardio exercises.  Cardio makes you breathe more deeply and quickly, which raises the level of oxygen in your bloodstream. And our brains use 20% of our body’s oxygen, so engaging in aerobic activity is vital for brain health as we age.  Try activities such as walking or an aqua bike class to reap the benefits of aerobic exercise.

Stay committed to exercise by choosing a fun activity that you’ll want to keep doing.  Exercising with a buddy or joining a small group class will help you stay motivated and give you the biggest mind-body impact.

Stay balanced and strong

Learn Tai Chi or take a Balance class. Both are wonderful for stability, coordination, and memory. They lower stress levels, and improve concentration.  Stability exercises are low-impact and will challenge you to learn a new skill or movement, which helps keep your brain young.

Improving your balance will also strengthen your legs and core, helping you to avoid falls and injury, feel more poised, and enjoy an overall sense of well-being.

Increase memory and learning

Exercise your way to better memory and thinking skills. Physical activity can stabilize glucose levels and decrease inflammation which directly influences the release of chemicals in the brain that affect healthy growth of brain cells.

Drink water

Beware of dehydration from exercise! When you’re working out, it’s easy to become unintentionally dehydrated. Our brains are made up of 80% water and need continual replenishment so they work optimally.  Becoming even slightly dehydrated can raise stress hormones which can lead to a decrease in memory function. To enhance clarity and focus, drink water first thing in the morning when you’re naturally dehydrated after sleeping and especially before and after exercise.

Enhance your mind and your mood

Most of all, exercise makes us feel good.  After a healthy work out, you’ll feel happier, more self-confident, and positive. Reward yourself with a relaxing cool down and a pat on the back for investing in your long-term health and fitness.

Fitness at Ávila!

We design our fitness and wellness programs to strengthen and enhance mind, body and spirit. Ávila residents can choose from more than 25 fitness classes each week, including chair Pilates, strength training, water aerobics, and aquatic biking. Fitness professionals trained to work with active seniors teach our classes. View our fitness schedule here.

In addition, we regularly offer nutrition and wellness programming focused on everything from fall prevention and brain health to healthy eating and cooking.