Active Lifestyle Associated with Better Brain Functioning
It’s old news that you function better overall if you are not a couch potato. However, here’s a slightly new wrinkle–either mental or physical activity produce improved cognitive functioning.
In a study last May, first published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and reported in Science Daily, cognition improved significantly with both mental and physical activity, but neither was better than the other.
While cognitive functioning improved a good deal over the course of the study, one conclusion was that the amount of activity is more important than the type of activity. The authors demonstrated that stimulating activity, either mental activity or exercise, can improve cognition in only 12 weeks.
Set Up Your Own Experiment
To see if you, too, can change your cognitive functioning for the better, try one hour 3 days a week of home based mental activity and one hour of physical exercise 3 days a week for 12 weeks. Perhaps games, puzzles, stimulating conversation, or learning new information would be good mental activities. A physical activity in a class setting was used in the study; perhaps yoga, gym based exercise, or even walking as vigorously as possible with a friend. The point would be to not do more than you are comfortable doing, but to get moving.
From the perspective of a retired person, life is no fun, if you aren’t intimately involved with your own use of time and energy. Being retired or having the kids move on in their lives often leaves a big hole, especially if you were active. If your cognitive function declines because your life has essentially become boring or never stimulating, it’s a “no brainer” to know something needs to change.
Additionally and on a broader scale, a worldwide epidemic of dementia is anticipated during the next 40 years. Longer life expectancies and changes in lifestyle contribute. Activities that you are engaged in are potential strategies to prevent or delay dementia in individuals prior to decline in cognitive functioning.
What’s in It for You?
You can be a driver of your own destiny, not waiting around for age to overtake you. Chances are that more active participation in your own life will mean a truly better life!