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Body and Brains – The Exercise Connection

Get That Hippocampus Rate Up!

If you thought getting exercise was only for your body, think again: It’s just as important for your brain. The Harvard Health Letter puts it precisely: “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills.”

In a study by the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise—the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping—appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results. The results were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

How much exercise is required? The Chicago Tribune reports that a brisk walk three times week may increase the size of the hippocampus. A University of Texas at Dallas study of adults, 57 – 75, shows “the tremendous benefit of aerobic exercise on a person’s memory and demonstrates that aerobic exercise can reduce both the biological and cognitive consequences of aging.”

Anti-Aging Brain Training

Now try these fun Dr. Oz-approved brain games:

  • Improve Your Memory: Challenges your special recall and working memory.
  • Speed Match: Challenge your processing speed and reaction time to think faster and improve cognitive processes.
  • Color Match: This game helps to train your brain to avoid errors, develop impulse control and improve creative problem solving.
  • Word Bubbles: Exercise your language skills, tip-of-the-tongue and word-finding capabilities.
  • Lost in Migration: Focus on avoiding distraction and increasing work productivity and concentration with this game.

To further whip your brain into shape work on these exercises from Saludify:

  • Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand:A Reader’s Digest report indicates one result is “a rapid and substantial expansion in the parts of the cortex that control and process tactile information from the hand.”
  • Close your eyes while doing a daily task like taking a shower:Force your brain to use memory to pick up shampoo, soap, or conditioner.
  • Think creatively: Try to use ordinary objects to do extraordinary things. For example: what ordinary household item could you use to pick up a hot dish without potholders?

Go Old School

Write in long-hand rather than typing. You can learn more effectively by writing longhand. It helps you clarify your thoughts and remember things better. Don’t have a pen and paper handy? There’s an app for it: try Notes Plus, one of the higher rated personal note-taking productivity apps for smartphones and tablets using Apple and Android operating systems.

A minute of simple math can help get your brain in shape. Practice your addition, subtraction and multiplication tables. Life Hacker found this Mad Math Minute worksheet. How many problems can you do in 60 seconds? Scientific American reported how the brain can actually anticipate the answer to a math problem even before the problem is fully visible to the human eye!

Have Fun

Also enjoy this entertaining Forbes.com 10 Brainteasers To Test Your Mental Sharpness. Here’s a sample: Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name? And, play along with Kathie Lee & Hoda as they play Brain Teaser Tuesday courtesy of National Geographic’s Brain Games.

We are living longer and staying healthier than ever before. Let’s exercise good judgment and have the presence of mind to enjoy it fully!