Workout Strategies to Build Mental Muscle


Working out boosts production of the proteins that stimulate brain-cell growth, says John J Ratey MD, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. “It also revs your heart to pump more blood to your brain, which brings glucose and oxygen to help your neurons work optimally.” A variety of research shows that exercise may also improve memory, delay neural ageing, and fight depression.


Run A Memory Upgrade

Forty minutes of aerobic training three times a week for a year can increase the size of an older adult’s hippocampus by 2%, which may lead to improvements in memory, according to research by Arthur F Kramer, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. “It appears that the type of activity is interchangeable, but we’re still trying to figure out the exact criteria for frequency.” In his study, the participants walked, but we suggest moderate-intensity cycling, running, rowing, or swimming.


Bench-Press For Brainpower

Strength training for 60 minutes, three times a week for 6 months can help improve short- and long-term memory performance and attention as you age, according to a Brazilian study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The need to focus on technique when doing different lifts provides a cognitive challenge you may not get while doing a repetitive exercise like running, says Gary Small, director of the UCLA longevity centre and co-author of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program.


Redline It To Renew Neurons

Doing high-intensity intervals or resistance training—heart rate at 80 to 85% of its max—spikes your levels of brain-healthy hormones, says Dr Ratey. In fact, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that levels of BDNF (see below) increased 13% after 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise but showed no significant increase after low-intensity exercise. Aim for two 30-minute sessions a week. Team sports that demand interval-like intensity—say, hoops or football—add a social aspect and are even better for your brain.



Image from Stockexchange


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