Mind-Full Movement to Maximize Memory
One of the goals I set for myself heading into the last few months of the year is to make sure I maintain a regular exercise routine. I hadn’t maintained a solid schedule for a bit, and it felt good to get back to my Friday morning pilates class! I also spent a couple weekend days working in the garden at Marama. It gives me the chance to take home some of the bountiful passion fruit/lilikoi that my daughter loves. Making time for exercise makes my life better in so many ways.
Exercise for your brain
We’ve all heard how exercise is needed to keep us physically healthy and release stress, but exercise can actually improve your memory. Research has shown that aerobic exercise in late adulthood improves episodic memory, the ability to remember personal events and experiences.
I recommend that you make movement part of your routine with these key components:
- 🏃Aerobic activities such as biking, dancing, rowing, jogging, and whatever else you enjoy get your heart pumping and blood flowing. To reduce cardiovascular risk, aim for 150-200 minutes per week of aerobic exercise. This can look like 4 (four) one-hour classes per week with a bit of warm up and cool down.
- 💪 Strength training is muscle-building and should always be done safely with a partner or trainer. This exercise can be with the use of weights, resistance bands, or body weight. Examples of this movement are weight lifting, yoga, pilates, push-ups, squats, hill climbing, and even heavy gardening such as using a shovel and digging. One goal of strength training is to reduce fall risk. If you increase your strength then you can better support yourself. Another goal is the improvement of bone health, making you strong and healthy.
- 🧠 Dual-task exercises engage the brain and body. An example of dual-task exercise is having someone quiz you on important dates or people while you are on a brisk walk. For some people just following the cues of a yoga or dance class instructor is enough to engage both the brain and body simultaneously.
As with all forms of cognitive care, the sooner you start, the better the results. “We found that there were greater improvements in memory among those who are age 55 to 68 years compared to those who are 69 to 85 years old—so intervening earlier is better.” said lead author of the aforementioned study, Sarah Aghjayan in this article.
Brain activities and movement should be personalized to each individual to prevent injury and maximize results. Always work with your trusted provider to assess which activities are right for you. Personal trainers can be great assets and guides for physical activity.
Let’s get moving and continue with our movement toward a world without dementia!
Dr. Heather Sandison