Brains Need Exercise Too

By Valeria Gary, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

A commonly known fact is that physical activity is good for your health. It’s not just your muscles and heart that benefit from exercise. Physical activity is also good for cognitive* health. But don’t stop at just physical activity. Your brain needs to be “exercised” too. Research has shown many ways in which we can stimulate and exercise our brains in order to reduce the risk of dementia and other cognitive deficits.

*Cognition refers to the brain’s processes (memory, problem-solving, etc.) for learning and understanding.

Five (of Many) Ways to Exercise Your Brain

  1. Learn a new sport. This gives a double boost of brain health. You get the blood-pumping benefits of exercise and the cognitive benefit of learning a new skill.
  2. Learn to play a musical instrument. Here is another suggestion with several benefits. Music is therapy for the soul, and learning the motor skills involved in playing an instrument challenges both the brain and final motor skills.
  3. Learn a new language. The internet makes it easier to study a new language than ever before. There are online programs and communities for many languages. Check with your local library system for free courses. The Cobb County Library system, for example, has access to Gale courses free of charge for a variety of subjects, including some popular languages. Better yet, immerse yourself in a new language by travel or social organizations.
  4. Learn a new field of study. Books, magazines, courses, and more are available for every topic imaginable. Some universities allow seniors to sit in on courses for free while others provide free online access to courses via video.
  5. Learn about good nutrition. (This counts as brain exercise because learning something new exercises the brain.) Fueling the body also fuels the mind. While there is no single best way to eat, there are some basic nutritional guidelines that apply to the general population. One source of such information is www.choosemyplate.gov. Your doctor and/or registered dietitian can give you advice specific to your needs.

 

For more information regarding the importance of brain health, check out the following resources:

 

Tips for Daily Living: 12 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power http://parkinson.org/blog/tips/boost-brain-power

Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson’s Disease https://www.michaeljfox.org/understanding-parkinsons/living-with-pd/topic.php?cognitive-impairment

Effects of physical exercise programs on cognitive function in Parkinson’s disease patients: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of the last 10 years. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0193113

Ten Brain Exercises That Boost Memory https://www.everydayhealth.com/longevity/mental-fitness/brain-exercises-for-memory.aspx

3 responses on Brains Need Exercise Too

  1. Hi Pam! You are more than welcome to use the article. We appreciate the citations and will let the author know. Thank you for visiting our page and for what you guys are doing for PwP’s in DFW.

  2. I would like to republish this article in the Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society’s monthly newsletter. All links & citations will be included. Please confirm.

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