Can exercise improve thinking and memory?
The short answer is yes! Research has shown exercise to improve executive functioning, memory, problem solving, vision and perception—this list goes on and on! So, if you are like me, and sometimes don’t feel as sharp as you used to (this happened to me after having kids)—exercise is a great way to sharpen your mind.
But, what we really want to know is the how exercise can do such a thing, and then get to the nuts and bolts of how do we harness this power of exercise?
First, how does it work? I want to give you three simple ways that has been show in research in Parkinson's Disease and other disorders such as Alzheimer’s:
1) Increased brain blood flow and health
2) Altered dopamine and glutamate neurotransmission (our key messengers in the brain)!
3) Increased number of brain connections
Now the nuts and bolts: how do you do this? Again—I like things in groups of threes—so here you go:
It takes a big commitment. This is not a magic pill—it takes a lot of hard work and effort to start seeing results:
Exercise at least 30 minutes
At least 3x/week
For 3-6 months
What type of exercise is going to show you the greatest results? The short answer is—anything that is FUN and going to keep you engaged for a long period of time. But, that may be too simple for you, so again, let me give you some examples from research.
Skill training: coordination, activities that are new and take a lot of focus
Aerobic exercise: at a target heart rate and beyond your regular everyday activities
Resistance exercise: beyond your current every day routine
Just start. Yes, it does take a lot of exercise, and it does take commitment, but the #1 thing is making a change. And that may mean just 5 minutes of exercise to start.
So, I encourage you to start. And if you need help getting started or staying motivated, sign up for our newsletter online www.reactivept.com. When you sign up, you'll get a great exercise video including skill training to get you started on your way to better memory. Also, you can join our private FB group and get a lot of encouragement and free videos and information to get you started with your memory boosting exercise. Our mission is to help everyone fight disease through exercise and we are excited to join you in that fight!
Petzinger, G.M., et al., Exercise-enhanced neuroplasticity targeting motor and cognitive circuitry in Parkinson's disease. Lancet Neurol, 2013. 12(7): p. 716-26.