If you think doing Sudoku or crossword puzzles is the best way to boost your brain function and prevent dementia you may want to think again. Although solving thinking puzzles does stimulate cognitive activity, it is not the best exercise to improve brain function. So what is the best thing to do to help ensure that you have working grey matter in your grey power years? Hula hooping.
Okay, so not just hula hooping, but any form of moderately strenuous exercise that involves focusing on what you are doing in the moment and working towards goals or engaging with others in a common purpose.
Does exercise increase brain function?
Exercise alone will grow your brain. Studies have shown that engaging in regular aerobic exercise increases the volume of the areas of the brain involved with thinking and memory. That means doing exercise which gets your heart rate up and works up a sweat for two one hour sessions a week, or for 30 minutes 4-5 days a week.
Exercise also reduces insulin resistance and inflammation, and stimulates the release of growth factors which are chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
How do you stimulate brain activity?
Engaging in aerobic activities where you have to think about what you are doing is the best exercise to improve brain function. Running on a treadmill will give you the physical benefits for your brain, but does not engage your brain to create new pathways. The key is focus.
“Focus is at the centre of cognitive development. . . You can develop focus at any age and that gives you exponential power. One of the first things you can do is not multi-task. Be present. Be in the moment. Be in the thing in itself . . . and when you do that you can go into deeper and deeper levels. That’s complexity and that’s challenge. And when you do that you actually involve more and deeper aspects of your brain.” Dean Sherzai, M.D., Ph.D.
The best exercise to improve brain function is an aerobic activity where your focus is on what you are doing in the moment. This means an activity where you are constantly doing new and varied activity that you need to think about, such learning to hula hoop, or doing a dance fitness class.
The number one exercise to improve brain function
According to Dean Sherzai, M.D., Ph.D, what determines effective brain function most is the connections between the neurons in your brain, and the best way to build connections between neurons is by human interaction. If we put focus and human interaction together, the number one exercise to improve brain function is engaging in aerobic activity with a group of people working towards a common goal or around a common purpose.
For example, putting a team together to take part in The Super Heart Hoop-Off.
Hula Hoop Your Way To Better Memory
Hula hooping not only creates many happy memories, but also strengthens the cognitive function of your brain to enable you to recall them. Aerobic exercise where you are focused on the action you are performing, as you are when hula hooping, is the best exercise to improve brain function. Add to that engaging with a group of people hooping towards a common goal and you super-boost the growth of your brain.
Who’s in for entering a team in The Super Heart Hoop-Off?